A rapid response to cross-border health threats requires surveillance and monitoring mechanisms to ensure timely detection and identification of such threats. Early lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic have shown that the Union’s preparedness and response to cross-border health threats were sub-optimal. Real time surveillance, integrated with other areas, is therefore essential to ensure a timely response to health emergencies. This needs to be based on the capacities and requirements at Union and national level. A digital platform is needed to enable the automated collection of surveillance and laboratories data. This platform will use electronic health records and the application of artificial intelligence for data validation, analysis and automated reporting and will allow for the computerised handling and exchange of information, data and documents. The award of a direct grant as referred to in Article 13(5) of Regulation (EU) 2021/522 is duly justified because this action can only be carried out by Member States authorities that have the required competence and responsibility to implement the Union policies at national level. This joint action supports the policy priority to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and to prepare for any future health threats and implements the EU4Health Programme’s general objective of protecting people in the Union from serious cross-border threats to health and strengthening the responsiveness of health systems and coordination among the Member States in order to cope with serious cross-border threats to health (Article 3, point (b)) through the specific objectives defined in Article 4, points (a) and (b) of Regulation (EU) 2021/522.
OBJECTIVES, SCOPE AND ACTIVITIES
This joint action aims to support Member States and the Union in the implementation of digitalised, integrated surveillance systems at Union and national level, to ensure better detection of early signals for accurate risk assessment and response. The activities will be carried out by means of a joint action that will work towards upscaling national surveillance systems. This will facilitate building up the required national capacity for the development of interoperable, reliable and modern national surveillance systems, driven by digital transformation, making use of available and relevant research results. The joint action will be focused on capacity building, taking into account the needs analysis and the requirements for the development of national surveillance systems, with the creation of a training package. Three regional trainings of trainers (ToT) will be organised to pilot the integrated, real-time surveillance systems. The regional trainings will be hosted by countries with different needs and will promote exchange of experience. Based on the ToT evaluation, a Union training package will be developed. In order to ensure that the new integrated surveillance systems will be taken up by all Member States, tailored workshops will be organised, with the participation of the Commission, health authorities (at national and regional level) and stakeholders from different sectors (i.e. managers of data sources which can be integrated in the surveillance systems, such as health systems data, pharmaceutical supplies, trade, transport and economics). As a result of these workshops, recommendations on the development of and implementation of real time national surveillance systems will be elaborated.
EXPECTED RESULTS AND IMPACT
The joint action grant is expected to support capacity building at national and Union level, including an integrated surveillance system training package, exchange of experience and drawing up of recommendations. Using data analytics and artificial intelligence and electronic health data at Union level, based on the strengthening of capacities and requirements at national level, will allow for real time surveillance. Therefore, this action will support Union and national surveillance systems to ensure that they are integrated, which is essential to ensure a rapid response to cross-border health threats.