“We lacked a European health system to deal with the epidemic.”

“We lacked a European health system to deal with the epidemic.”

BarcelonaCovid has shaken the world on every level; A health crisis unprecedented in modern history has left lessons and, above all, homework for countries and their health systems. The scientific community agrees that the question to ask now is no longer whether there will be another pandemic with these characteristics, but rather when and how it will happen. Unfortunately, no one has a crystal ball to answer these unknowns, but there are keys to keep in mind to address them once the next unknown arrives. Coordination between states is one example that Hospital Clinic epidemiologist and dean of the UB School of Medicine, Anthony Trella, and UPC physicist and BIOCOM researcher Clara Prats highlighted Tuesday as areas for improvement in the face of this uncertain future. They also pointed out the need for more comprehensive databases and the creation of common structures to give a common response to health problems in the future, as they stressed in the first discussion of the session organized by the Institute of Catalan Studies and the ARA “IEC Questions: We ask, we understand and we speak”.

And in the discussion led by the title What will the next pandemic be?Trella has argued that in crisis situations like the one the world witnessed four years ago, there must be a European authority that gives instructions and rules to countries, outside the World Health Organization, to act in a coordinated way in the face of a new threat to public health. “We lacked a European health system to deal with the pandemic,” he said. It is an extremism shared by Prats, who also stressed that in terms of coordination “there is a lot that needs to be improved”, such as strengthening a global database of health information.

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Having a robust epidemic surveillance system is another lesson from the pandemic that experts believe can be improved. According to Prats, a “very significant effort” has been made to standardize data across the state, especially in Catalonia, but the system's detection capacity must be increased so that any emergency can be anticipated. It is an idea also defended by Trella, who added that countries should be very attentive to the development of viruses and other pathogens in the rest of the world. Regarding the strengthening of the epidemic plan, which still does not exist at the country level, the experts explained that the World Health Organization is working for the commitment of all countries to exchange information from clinical trials and improve cooperation by signing a “document”, although the main obstacles are funding. And maintain accounts.

Climate change risk

The climate crisis will increase the risk of a pandemic. Trella also believes that rising temperatures will have an impact on infectious diseases, and it is possible that diseases that have already been eliminated or have historically had little weight in our country, such as measles or malaria, may return. “If temperatures rise, vectors, such as mosquitoes, could change geographical areas,” he said, noting the presence of invasive species capable of transmitting diseases. It is also believed that there will be localized cases of dengue and more cases of diseases such as West Nile virus will be diagnosed. To deal with these threats, Prats advocates the use of large databases and new technological tools such as artificial intelligence (AI), through which you will have a greater ability to generate and interpret data, make better diagnostics, anticipate threats and act quickly to contain them. .

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