On May 17, Prof. Thijs Kuiken, Prof. Fouchier and Dr. Anja Schreijer participated in a Roundtable Discussion on Pandemic Preparedness in International Perspective in the House of Representatives. All three participants had submitted a position paper in preparation for the members of this discussion. Below is a brief summary of these three papers:
Prof. Ron A.M. Fouchier emphasizes in his position paper the importance of knowledge development, zoonosis prevention, and international cooperation to prevent future pandemics. The Erasmus MC has established the Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Center to collaborate in these areas. Fouchier advocates investing in fundamental and applicable knowledge to prevent pandemics worldwide. He emphasizes the role of vaccines and broad-spectrum drugs in pandemic response and calls for funding for vaccine research in the Netherlands and Europe. Fouchier suggests developing platform technologies and new ideas and investing in fair distribution of vaccines, knowledge, capacity and infrastructure worldwide.
The position paper of Dr. Anja Schreijer explains how the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that pathogens are not hindered by national borders, and that the Netherlands is vulnerable to international health threats. Promoting global health is therefore crucial for self-protection. The Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Center (PDPC) emphasizes the need for a global health strategy, given the recurring outbreaks of viruses and the risks exacerbated by climate change, biodiversity loss, and globalization. Investing in prevention, knowledge development, and interdisciplinary approaches is important. The planetary health and one health approaches acknowledge the interconnectedness of climate, humans, animals, and nature, and the PDPC contributes by formulating a knowledge agenda and promoting interdisciplinary research. More investments and an integrated approach are necessary to strengthen the Netherlands’ role in global health policy.
In the position paper by Prof. Dr. Thijs Kuiken, scientific insights were shared on the causes of zoonotic infections. The position paper makes recommendations for pandemic prevention at the international level and it is emphasized that human activities, such as animal trade, intensive livestock production and land use change, contribute to the emergence of pandemics. Pandemic preparedness strategies include both reactive measures and preventive measures. It discusses policy options for pandemic prevention, including reducing risks through land use change and wildlife trade, addressing knowledge gaps, and promoting involvement of all sectors of society. The One Health approach is used as a guiding principle, balancing and optimizing human, animal and ecosystem health.
Read more about the Round Tables and the position papers: https://www.tweedekamer.nl/debat_en_vergadering/commissievergaderingen/details?id=2023A02720
Date: June 12, 2023