Partnerships for global outbreak response stronger than ever

Partnerships for global outbreak response stronger than ever

19/12/2017

The World Health Organization (WHO) Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) held its Global Meeting of Partners on 5-6 December in Geneva. The FAO Crisis Management Centre for Animal Health (CMC-AH) is one of over 200 GOARN members who participated to strengthen global partnerships in outbreak response.

GOARN is a partnership of technical institutions and networks that respond to acute public health events with the deployment of staff and resources to affected countries. When requested, GOARN delivers rapid and effective support to prevent and control outbreaks of infectious diseases and public health emergencies, including zoonoses. The CMC-AH engages in incident coordination with partners at WHO and GOARN, regarding zoonotic disease events of global interest.

The GOARN meeting provided an opportunity to discuss global priorities and challenges in epidemic alert and emergency response. It also provided strategic direction to the Network’s five areas of work:

  1. training
  2. alert and risk assessment
  3. strengthening coordinated rapid response capacities and teams
  4. conducting research and developing tools
  5. strengthening governance and oversight.

Participants learned about how the Network functions and deploys experts to the field for outbreak response, and how each partner could engage more actively.

Issues such as the propriety of conducting research during emergency response were discussed, and areas for improvement. Strengthening preparedness, building national expertise, engaging local partners during peacetime and, coordinating alert mechanisms and response activities with key institutional partners were brought forward. The meeting led to agreement on shared goals and the future direction of GOARN.

During his opening remarks, Dr Peter Salama, Director of WHO Health Emergency Programme, emphasised the need to engage FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and help them acquire much-needed resources at the public health-animal health interface. He remarked that FAO and OIE should be fully engaged with all outbreak response processes and that WHO intends to continue working closely with them, to secure sufficient resources to support GOARN. The CMC-AH provided an exhibit in partnership with OIE, to demonstrate their long history of collaborative work in global animal disease emergency management. 

The CMC-AH members also participated in the Global Partnership Biological Security Programming Coordination Meeting, hosted by the Canadian Mission to the United Nations, on 6 December in Geneva. The meeting was convened to coordinate partnership work and identify priorities for the Canada G7 Presidency in 2018.