WHO Pandemic, Epidemic Intelligence Hub Opens in Germany

BERLIN, Germany, September 2, 2021 (ENS) – The tools to forecast, detect and assess epidemic and pandemic risks are on offer from a new central intelligence collection and sharing hub established in Berlin by the World Health Organization this week.

The hub will support the work of public health experts and policy makers in all countries to take rapid and informed decisions to prevent and respond to future public health emergencies.

World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wednesday inaugurated the new WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin to better prepare and protect the world from global disease threats such as the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany is supporting the WHO Hub with an initial investment of US$100 million. Originally announced in May, the new Hub will be a collection point for health data from around the world. The mission is to provide the world with better data, analytics and decisions to detect and respond to health emergencies.

Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, currently director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, has been appointed to lead the WHO Hub. WHO would like to acknowledge the Nigerian government for its support, which ensures strong leadership for this important initiative.

The Hub will harness broad and diverse partnerships across a range of professional disciplines, connecting them with the latest technology to link the data, tools and communities of practice so that actionable data and intelligence are shared for the common good.

World Health Organization Executive Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, right, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel cut the ribbon at the opening of the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence, Berlin, Germany, September 1, 2021 (Photo courtesy VOA News).

“The world needs to be able to detect new events with pandemic potential and to monitor disease control measures on a real-time basis to create effective pandemic and epidemic risk management,” said Dr. Tedros. “This hub will be key to that effort, leveraging innovations in data science for public health surveillance and response, and creating systems whereby we can share and expand expertise in this area globally.”

The new WHO Hub is part of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme. It will be a new collaboration of countries and partners worldwide, driving innovations to increase availability of key data, develop state of the art analytic tools and predictive models for risk analysis, and link communities of practice around the world.

“Despite decades of investment, COVID-19 has revealed the great gaps that exist in the world’s ability to forecast, detect, assess and respond to outbreaks that threaten people worldwide,” said Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergency Programme.

“The WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence is designed to develop the data access, analytic tools and communities of practice to fill these very gaps, promote collaboration and sharing, and protect the world from such crises in the future,” Dr. Ryan said.

The Hub will work to:

  • – Enhance methods for access to multiple data sources vital to generating signals and insights on disease emergence, evolution and impact;
  • – Develop state of the art tools to process, analyze and model data for detection, assessment and response;
  • – Provide WHO, its Member States, and partners with these tools to underpin better, faster decisions on how to address outbreak signals and events;
  • – Connect and catalyze institutions and networks developing disease outbreak solutions for the present and future.

The WHO Hub is currently operating from a center provided by the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. It will soon move to a permanent campus at the heart of Berlin in the Kreuzberg district that will provide a collaborative work environment for the Hub’s staff, who will represent a wide range of disciplines.

“All the work that goes into pandemic and epidemic preparedness must occur before an outbreak starts,” said Dr. Tedros. “Data linkage and analysis, and the ability to better detect and assess risks of disease events in their earliest stages before they amplify and cause death and societal disruption, is what the WHO Hub will focus on.”

Featured image: A young man receives an intramuscular shot in his arm, December 18, 2020 (Photo by Marco Verch)

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