Preparatory measures for the participation of the Western Balkans and Turkey in ECDC work
ECDC is supporting the Western Balkans and Turkey with the strengthening of their infectious disease prevention and control systems and public health workforce in order to prepare for their future participation in ECDC work.
The current project is being externally financed by the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). The project aims to enhance the capacities of the IPA beneficiaries so that they can improve their ‘One-Health’ response to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and enhance surveillance of laboratory-confirmed severe acute respiratory infections (SARI).
Implementation is structured around three technical Work Streams (WS) to deliver the key results:
- to enhance IPA beneficiaries’ communicable disease surveillance and control capacities and health emergency preparedness capabilities, and to support the development of public health microbiology laboratory systems;
- to develop work packages for regional joint action on ‘One-Health’ responses to AMR in the Western Balkans;
- to support fit-for-purpose surveillance systems in the Western Balkans through enhanced SARI surveillance.
Timeframe: January 2020 – December 2024
Funding authority: DG NEAR
Awarded budget: 2.5M EUR
Work Stream 1. Preparatory measures to enable the authorities of IPA beneficiaries to participate in ECDC activities and systems
The overall objective of Work Stream 1 is to support national counterparts in the IPA beneficiary countries as they prepare for full participation in ECDC work.
The specific objective of Work Stream 1 is to prepare the IPA beneficiaries so that they can participate in all the relevant technical activities of ECDC involving EU/EEA countries. This will enable them to fulfil ECDC requirements for data/information submission (including completeness and timeliness) at the minimum level, as per EU acquis The focus of ECDC’s Work Stream 1 is to further enhance communicable disease surveillance and control capacities, improve health emergency preparedness capabilities, and support the development of public health microbiology laboratory systems.
Expected result 1: increased EU-level data quality in terms of comparability, timeliness, and reliability of communicable diseases surveillance data, when an IPA beneficiary joins the EU or ECDC. In the long-term, ECDC scientific and surveillance outputs may be more comprehensive and cover a broader geographical scope within Europe (i.e. the data of relevant IPA beneficiaries will be presented on the European map). At the policy implementation level, it is anticipated that response to public health threats from infectious diseases at national level will be improved, contributing to improved capacity for the early detection and response of serious cross-border threats at EU level.
Work Stream 2. Improvement of ‘One-Health’ responses to antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
In accordance with the conclusions of the joint ECDC and EFSA Regional Workshop on ‘One-Health’ approaches to AMR, the overall objective of Work Stream 2 is to contribute to the improvement of ‘One-Health’ responses to antimicrobial resistance in the Western Balkans. This will pave the way for possible regional action in the shape of national reforms and investments. The involvement of national experts from Turkey in the activities of this work stream will contribute to the sharing of good practices on AMR among IPA beneficiaries. It will also facilitate the advancement of interventions to reduce antibiotic resistance and consumption in Turkey.
The specific objective of Work Stream 2 is to identify gaps and develop IPA beneficiary roadmaps, support the development of electronic surveillance of AMR and raise awareness. It will also secure political commitment for national interventions to enhance ‘One-Health’ responses to AMR in the Western Balkans and involve experts from Turkey in the sharing of experiences and learning from best practices.
Expected result 2: the Western Balkans and Turkey will be better equipped to effectively detect and respond to AMR threats using a ‘One-Health’ approach and will become an EU neighbourhood region applying best practices.
Work Stream 3. Enhancing SARI surveillance to support the implementation of fit-for-purpose surveillance systems and a follow-up on vaccine effectiveness
In response to the EU and ECDC commitment to support the Western Balkans in improving their response to future public health emergencies similar to COVID-19, ECDC aims to enhance surveillance of laboratory-confirmed severe acute respiratory infections (SARI), as an essential component of COVID-19 surveillance. With co-circulation of several respiratory viruses, especially during winter, it is essential to monitor disease-specific trends over time, assess pandemic and influenza severity, and understand the impact of public health interventions on disease severity by age and location. The overall objective of Work Stream 3 is to support the enhancement of laboratory-confirmed SARI surveillance in the Western Balkans, as in EU/EEA countries.
The specific objective of Work Stream 3 is to address the specific needs of the Western Balkans to enable their national authorities to join the ECDC SARI surveillance programme. This will be done by providing technical, expert, and financial support and by facilitating the exchange of good practices within the Western Balkans and between the Western Balkan and EU/EEA countries. The surveillance system will also be used to assess and monitor vaccine effectiveness for influenza and COVID-19.
Expected result 3: the Western Balkan countries will be better prepared to effectively detect and respond to threats from viral respiratory diseases at a level similar to that for EU/EEA countries.