The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), coordinator of the project, hosted the official UNITED4Surveillance kick-off on 14 and 15 February 2023 in Utrecht, the Netherlands. More than 100 experts and policymakers from 25 European countries attended the hybrid kick-off on Day 1, of which 70 participants physically attended the meeting and throughout the day 30 to 35 participants joined the program online.
The opening was done by RIVM’s Director of the Centre for Infectious Disease Control Prof. Jaap van Dissel. The consortium was informed by Ingrid Keller, Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), on the EU health security legal framework. Including the new EU Regulation 2022/2371 on serious cross-border threats to health. Yoline Kuipers from DG SANTE further elaborated on the current EU policy environment and the expectations for this Joint Action.
Eelco Franz, project coordinator from RIVM, then highlighted once more the goal of this Joint Action; to strengthen infectious disease surveillance by providing capacity-building at the member-state level while aiming for harmonisation of methods and approaches.
Also the project’s ambitions and the expectations from the partners by the coordinator were discussed. Afterwards, the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare & Sport (VWS) introduced the Pandemic Preparedness framework for the Netherlands, in particular the National Action Plan for the Strengthening of Zoonotic Disease Policy. Followed by ECDC, who presented their strategic surveillance goals in relation to UNITED4Surveillance. At the end of the first day, the results and recommendations of the Post COVID-19 Surveillance project were discussed.
On Day 2, interactive workshops were held to further develop the work plans within the work packages of outbreak detection (WP2), hospital surveillance (WP3), and One Health surveillance (WP4). A total of 60 participants physically attended these workshops.
We would like to thank all the partners for contributing their knowledge and expertise. We were pleased to welcome you in Utrecht and look forward to collaborating in this Joint Action.