Preventing severe illness, saving lives and minimising disruption to New Zealanders’ lives is the aim of Infectious Diseases Research Platform Te Niwha’s first report.
Likely Pandemic Agents and Scenarios – an Epidemiological and Public Health Framework, was developed in collaboration with Te Pou Hauora Tūmatanui | The Public Health Agency, within the Ministry of Health, to provide a comprehensive approach that considers a range of scenarios and agents, new technologies, and lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The executive summary was released at the Te Niwha hosted Aotearoa New Zealand Infectious Diseases and Pandemic Preparedness Summit attended by more than 140 delegates in Christchurch early last week.
Te Niwha Chief Science Advisor and highly regarded infectious disease epidemiologist Distinguished Professor Nigel French led the report team. He says it “draws on the expertise and experience of experts directly involved in the COVID-19 pandemic and other public health emergencies”.
Professor French summarised the rationale for the framework for the delegates at the Christchurch Summit: “Aotearoa needs to be better prepared to deliver a more equitable response to future pandemics and other infectious disease outbreaks. We provide a framework for developing a more robust and equitable approach, including community led initiatives, to protect our population from a wide range of potential pandemic agents.”
The report covers: A) Specific Potential Pandemic Agents, B) Pandemic planning and preparedness: Scenarios of pandemic agents and capabilities required, and C) Pandemic response: Impact assessment, strategy development and control measures.
Public Health Agency Chief Adviser Epidemiology, Dr Fiona Callaghan, one of the report’s co-authors, says the framework helps characterise future pandemics, the challenges of different types of pandemics and how Aotearoa New Zealand can prepare for them. “It also highlights the importance of using the time between pandemics to build up the knowledge, relationships, ways of working and technical capacity across of wider range of areas to respond effectively to the next pandemic. This report was a great opportunity for communities, academics and government agencies to come together to further our understanding of pandemics and their impacts in Aotearoa New Zealand"
Te Niwha Director Te Pora Thompson says: “The report’s release is timely and will be a significant tool across stakeholders for planning, and particularly for Te Niwha to ensure that we close the gaps in our research efforts for world-class capability for preparedness”.