Mediterranean health care, a common north-south challenge

EpiSouth Plus, global approach to common threats and epidemics

07 December, 18:53

In September 2013, EpiSouth Plus will run a simulation of an epidemic in the Mediterranean in order to test emergency preparedness in member countries In September 2013, EpiSouth Plus will run a simulation of an epidemic in the Mediterranean in order to test emergency preparedness in member countries

(ANSAmed) - ROME, DECEMBER 7 - In Euro-Mediterranean countries, the north cannot do without the south and vice versa in terms of health care: this is the meaning behind the EU-financed EpiSouth project.

Begun in 2006, the project is now in its second phase. Termed EpiSouth Plus, it was the subject of a three-day conference that ended Friday at the Health Ministry in Rome, and which its scientific leader, Superior Institute of Health (ISS) researcher Silvia Declich, called ''fundamental'' in consolidating international relations.

That is to say, in reinforcing a network between European and non-European countries, which has been built over the past six years, and whose aim it is to increase health security in the Mediterranean as well as unified response capacity to common threats: from building an epidemiological intelligence network to information and training exchanges between labs in Mediterranean countries, to the development of common response plans to possible health emergencies. These are among the positive results of EpiSouth, which numbers 27 member nations, two thirds of them non-European.

Now Declich looks to the future. ''EpiSouth Plus ends in 2013. Our main challenge is how to develop this project further.

The countries involved certainly intend to maintain the main functions of the network, at least with minimum input, once the allocated funding is used up,'' she commented. Experts and politicians now are conscious that health issues in the area require an integrated approach. ''When this project took off, in 2006, it was an innovative, pioneering idea. Now the idea that health care must be thought of as an overall approach has become a mantra, on national as well as European Commission levels,'' Declich explained.

''Nowadays, disease travels fast, across national boundaries: it depends on the speed of transport of people, animals, and products. Not having a global vision is unthinkable.'' In September 2013, EpiSouth Plus will run a simulation of an epidemic in the Mediterranean in order to test emergency preparedness in member countries.

Coordinated by Italy's ISS, the EpiSouth Plus 3.9-million-euro budget is co-financed by the EU health program, EuropeAid, and the health ministries and institutes of member countries. (ANSAmed).

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