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Looking back on the EU summit of pandemics national planners and stakeholders

The 18th May 2022 the STAMINA project celebrated the 1st International Summit on Pandemic Management in València (Spain), organised and hosted by the València Local Police in its headquarters.

The Summit aimed to be a forum for debate in which high-level experts presented the lessons learned from the current COVID-19 crisis and outlined how to deal with future pandemics. During the Summit, the progress of STAMINA and the tools developed inside it to help pandemic managers and responders to coordinate properly and make better decisions were presented.

The Summit was preceded by a pilot test and a stakeholder seminar the 17th May in the València Port Authority premises, where three of the STAMINA tools were tested, validated and evaluated by simulating critical situations in a real environment by two other organisations in addition to València Local Police: Spanish Red Cross-TECSOS and València Port Foundation. The three tested tools were:

  • The emergency management tool Crisishub, wich support the decision making during the trial.
  • The resource management tool COP, both for personnel and material as well, working closely integrated with Crisishub.
  • The social media analytics tool WMSA, which helped gather social data and be prepared for gatherings or to tackle negative opinions or fake news related to pandemics and their management.

The Summit featured relevant speakers such as Anne Simon, director of the European Commission’s Emergencies Office, Miranda Ngoc, representative of the European Office of the World Health Organization, Fernando Simón, director of the Health Alerts and Emergencies Coordination Centre of the Spanish Ministry of Health, Margarita del Val, researcher at the Spanish National Research Council, among other national and regional planners, health experts, technicians and first-responders.

29 speakers and at least 38 organisations from 19 EU and non-EU countries participated in the Summit, which marked the culmination of two years of intense collaborative work on the subject, demonstrating that Law Enforcement Agencies, health ministries, universities, hospitals, researchers, businesses, public administrations and many other entities from Europe and non-EU countries can successfully collaborate in the face of common challenges.

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The Summit was divided in 9 panels which covered:

  • The institutional welcome with national, regional and local government representatives.
  • The World Health Organisation and European Commission pandemic’s perspective and successes, with one representative from each organisation.
  • The national planner’s perspective.
  • The scientists and pandemic management experts perspective.
  • The first-responder’s perspective.
  • The outline of the project, its possibilities and challenges, with technicians from the project.
  • The PREPARE Cluster outline: a conglomerate of other pandemic related projects in which some of the STAMINA organisations also take part.
  • The infodemic and media perspective during pandemics, with a Spanish journalist and a UK data analyst.
  • The closure of the Summit, by the hand of the Head of the European Projects Manager of València Local Police.

The summit was broadcasted in streaming and recorded:

The conclusions of both the trial and the Summit are that it is really important that different organisations from different fields cooperate and coordinate to respond to health threats such as a pandemic.

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A necessary value is fluid communication between all the entities involved in the management of any crisis so that the decisions taken achieve the desired effectiveness. Making use of commonly used technological tools makes it possible to follow the thread of events and subsequently evaluate the decisions taken for continuous improvement.

The use of tools that harmonise the different protocols for action is a key element in decision-making because it helps emergency managers to minimise the risks involved.

The advantages of having these technologies were clearly shown in the trial and analysed and exposed during the Summit with variety of examples and testimonies from different organisations and nationalities: the response was better and faster thanks to these tools and the coordination and cooperation among organisations that they enabled.

In conclusion, these types of activities, both the pilot and the summit, create a space for research and improvement to face possible pandemics in the future. In the case of the summit, the lecturers talked about the experience acquired during the management of Covid19, highlighting the critical points and how they acted at each moment. By carrying out these activities, the response systems for future pandemics are strengthened.