The global health community increasingly recognizes the importance of proactive, collaborative and coordinated efforts to save people’s lives and avert public health crises, in advance of and during epidemics. Recently, the role of research has been recognised as an essential component in these efforts. Many emerging diseases are zoonotic, and we have a limited understanding of their origins, transmission and pathogenesis. Typically we are afforded only a short window of opportunity to study them when they emerge. In addition, we often lack field-tested and fully approved diagnostics, drugs and vaccines for response. We need to make the best use of this brief time interval to understand these diseases better and be able to test available countermeasures effectively.
Experience with recent epidemics such as Ebola and Zika highlights the need, and the opportunity, to improve research and create enabling environments for effective response in affected countries. While products to prevent, treat and control these diseases are fundamental, they are not sufficient unless there are basic capabilities for multidisciplinary research and product deployment in the affected countries. These prerequisites should be included as part of a coordinated and synergistic approach for preparedness and response, especially at country level.
WHO R&D Blueprint: Ana Maria Henao-Restrepo, TBC
CEPI: Richard Hatchett, TBC
GOARN: Gail Carson
OneHealth: Peter Daszak
Country representatives: Chikwe Ihekweazu
Speakers and additional panellist(s): Lucille Blumberg.