WHO pandemic early warning hub inaugurated in Berlin

  02 September 2021    Read: 310
WHO pandemic early warning hub inaugurated in Berlin

A pandemic early warning system was inaugurated by World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday.

The center aims to prepare the world for future pandemics through the collection and analysis of large amounts of data.

"The hub will bring together partners worldwide to collaborate and create the tools and data needed for all countries to prepare, detect and respond to pandemic and epidemic risks," the WHO said on its website.

The hub's first director is to be the German-born Nigerian epidemiologist, Chikwe Ihekweazu, who currently heads Nigeria's health authority.

Following the devastation caused by the coronavirus outbreak, health experts believe that the outbreak of a new pandemic is only a matter of time. Warning signs have to be systematically monitored with a view to early and strong action, they say.

In May when the decision was taken to establish the center, Merkel said that, "Data are a significant basis for the fight against future pandemics."

"Data that, when combined and processed with the correct analytic tools, can provide insights that we would never find on our own, or at least not as quickly."

The new center is to make use of artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze large quantities of data, focusing on animal health, unusual human diseases, changes in human behavior, the effects of climate change and population shifts.

German institutes, including the disease control body, the Robert Koch Institute, and Berlin's Charite Hospital, are to be closely involved in the project, as well as the Hasso Plattner Institute for Digital Engineering.

The hub will initially be housed in the Charite but will later have its own building in Berlin's Kreuzberg district.

Germany is putting up 30 million euros ($35 million) to help fund it.

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