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Launch of the Ibero-American Epidemiological Observatory to Promote a Rapid Response to Health Emergencies

ISGlobal is part of the Technical Secretariat of this platform, which aims to strengthen Ibero-American cooperation in the field of health

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Photo: Delegates from various Ibero-American governments and health institutions met in Montevideo to set the basis of the platform. / SEGIB

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to improve the response to health and epidemiological crises and emergencies. With this objective in mind, the 27th Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in April 2021, approved the creation of the Ibero-American Epidemiological Observatory (OEPI, for its acronym in Spanish), a platform that brings together various Ibero-American health organisations and institutions to strengthen cooperation and coordination in health matters through the exchange of experiences and knowledge. At the end of April, delegates from various Ibero-American governments and health institutions, including ISGlobal, met at the Spanish Training and Cooperation Centre in Montevideo (Uruguay) to set the basis of this platform and discuss the first lines of action to be taken by the Observatory.

After this first round of meetings, the representatives defined the three main objectives of the OEPI: 1) strengthen coordination and strategic planning to improve the response capacity of governmental actors to global health emergencies; 2) generate, develop and disseminate scientific knowledge through the exchange of information, experiences and best practices; and 3) establish a preparedness and response plan for possible emergencies, strengthening epidemiological information systems, disease prevention and control programmes, and strategies for dealing with health emergencies. On the basis of these objectives, the participants in the meeting proposed lines of action to be adopted by the Governing Board.

"The Observatory will be a tool for sharing information and experiences across the region, learning from each other and using the best available evidence from different ministries, health institutes and research centres such as ISGlobal. This will enable health authorities to establish appropriate frameworks for preparedness and response," says Elizabeth Diago, coordinator of ISGlobal's Preparedness, Response, Recovery and Resilience Working Group. Clara Marín, ISGlobal's Analysis Coordinator, emphasises the need for policy implementation: "Before the pandemic, many issues remained at a theoretical level. The health crisis has made it clear that whatever is agreed must have an implementation plan and policies that reach the population".

A multidisciplinary and multisectoral group

The OEPI is composed of both Ibero-American Networks and Ibero-American Cooperation Programmes in the fields of health, science and technology. The Governing Board is coordinated by the Secretaría General Iberoamericana (SEGIB) and includes the Red Iberoamericana Ministerial de Aprendizaje e Investigación en Salud (RIMAIS), the Ibero-American Science and Technology for Development Programme (CYTED), the Red de Autoridades Competentes en Medicamentos de los Países Iberoamericanos (EAMI) and the Ibero-American Supercomputing Network (RISC). ISGlobal is an active member of the Technical Secretariat together with RIMAIS. A Scientific Committee also exists, with experts in epidemiology, innovation and risk management.