Establishment of an International Network of Social Sciences Research Centres to help address governance and other challenges in the preparedness for and the response to infectious threats
Infectious diseases, in particular epidemics and antimicrobial resistance, pose significant threats to the social, economic and health security of communities and countries around the world. However, these diseases also transcend borders and require multi-sectoral and multi-jurisdictional co-operation and preparedness to ensure the world is safe from global threats.
Many global infectious disease outbreaks are enabled, accelerated and allowed to spread by shortcomings in governance at all levels (national, regional as well as global). This governance challenge has been recognised and many initiatives are beginning to work in this space. However, communities would be better prepared to respond to infectious threats (public health emergencies or antimicrobial resistance) if such efforts and structures that govern the overall prevention and response were informed by research evidence from the range of social sciences and humanities disciplines.
The Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R) and the Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPI-AMR) have identified the need to establish an international Network of Social Sciences Research Expertise, to better address governance and other challenges in prevention and response to infectious threats, be it at local, national, regional or global levels.
The scope of this Coordination and Support Action (CSA) is to:
I. Initiate, in an organised and coordinated manner, the International Network of Social Sciences Research Expertise, addressing governance challenges, engage with stakeholders on behalf of network members, and work with research funding agencies to grow the network to an effective, internationally representative scale. The proposed network would have the following main objectives:
- Strengthen research capacity and catalyse social sciences researchers to generate and apply new knowledge about effective governance arrangements for infectious disease preparedness, combating antimicrobial resistance, and prevention and response efforts. This would include addressing the ethical, legal and social aspects (ELSA) as well as among others the issue of accessibility;
- Foster cross-region and global research collaborations to better connect researchers currently working in isolation and to support bigger, more robust social science research on the governance aspects of infectious threat prevention and response;
- Facilitate ongoing engagement between researchers and global policymakers to inform national and global decision-making on appropriate governance arrangements for effective prevention and response measures;
- Inform and enable better preparedness and response efforts through the application of knowledge, sharing of lessons learned, and creation of improved governance arrangements. But also be a source of advice in case of a public health emergency, to inform priority setting and response from a social science perspective. In this respect flexibility will be expected from the consortium.
Activities supported by this CSA should include among others the following:
- Identifying best practices and lessons for enabling, coordinating, and supporting prevention and response efforts by international institutions and regional agencies across borders, while also taking into account research-constrained settings and systems;
- Identifying strategies to strengthen the discovery, development, and take-up of existing and new innovative interventions and other measures across multiple sectors including examining their impact on health systems. This would include identifying the barriers and motivations that influence the wider use and uptake of these innovations such as vaccines;
- Developing proposals for more effective raising of public awareness about infectious threats in general and AMR in particular, and inducing behaviour change;
- Conducting socio-economic and cultural analyses to better understand the societal cost/benefit of different strategies to prepare for and prevent AMR and epidemics.
II. Establish the central coordinating hub for the network under development, focusing on maximising opportunities for collaboration, learning and data sharing in order to scale-up evidence.
The consortium is expected to collaborate with GloPID-R members and JPI AMR and their various initiatives in this domain, as well as other relevant initiatives already existing or under development at national, regional, and international level, in order to maximise synergy and complementarity. Specific propositions on how this can be achieved should be included in the proposal. It is expected that, at a minimum, the network hub will host an annual meeting for the network, and additional thematic workshops as appropriate.
The Commission considers that a proposal requesting an EU contribution between EUR 2 to 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amount.
- Effective cross-region and global research collaborations that better connect multidisciplinary researchers currently working in isolation.
- Strengthened capacity to address the socio-economic and governance dimensions of an effective research preparedness and response to infectious threats.
- Robust evidence to guide policy makers on global infectious disease governance.
- Built in-country capacity in low and middle income countries to better support global efforts.
- Contribution to the implementation of the 'European One-health action plan against AMR and the WHO Global Action Plan on AMR'.
- Contribution to the achievement of SDG 3, and in particular the targets 3 on combatting communicable diseases, B on supporting the research and development of vaccines and medicines for diseases that primarily affect developing countries, and D on strengthening capacity on early warning and management of global health risks.
- International cooperation
- Socio-economic science and humanities