Published: 4 April 2022
Public Health Wales is continuing to share its expertise and experience to ensure safer environments through cross-sectoral capacity building, exchange of knowledge and best practice, thanks to an extension of the SHARP Joint Action.
The 3-year, SHARP Joint Action, originally planned to run from 2019 to March 2022, continues as the European Commission extends the programme in response to the pandemic and its impact on available resources to complete this important work.
The global response to COVID-19 has laid bare weaknesses and major challenges in the international approach to managing public health emergencies and the Joint Action is now scheduled to end in March 2023.
Professional Lead for Health Protection at Public Health Wales, Dr Giri Shankar MBE comments, ”When COVID-19 arrived and progress across the work packages stalled, Public Health Wales was agile in refocusing on meeting a fundamental aim of the Joint Action by specifically supporting cross-sectoral capacity building, exchange of knowledge and best practices. Public Health Wales achieved this by delivering workshops on Risk Communication where principles for effective communications and the best practice applied in Wales were shared. These events also built understanding of the management of the pandemic outside of Wales by giving a platform to EU member states to share their experiences and approach.
“Overall, the collaboration and membership of the SHARP JA steering group has built deeper understanding of the challenges of preparedness in relation to COVID-19 across partner states that informs our thinking here in Wales.
“Despite Brexit, a memorandum of understanding has meant Wales continues to contribute to, and benefit from involvement in the SHARP Joint Action, building and mobilising knowledge and skills to improve health and well-being across Wales.”
The workshop content was well received and has prompted invitations to present at other international events.
Co-funded by the 3rd Health Programme of the EU, “SHARP” stands for Strengthened International Health Regulations and Preparedness in the EU (SHARP JA) and its purpose is to strengthen preparedness in the EU against serious cross-border threats to health, using the framework of International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005). IHR core capacities are designed to prevent, detect and respond to threats to human health that come from biological outbreaks, chemical contamination, environmental and unknown threats to human health. Such threats have no borders.
SHARP works to strengthen member’s existing IHR capacities as well as supporting improvement in countries where IHR capability gaps exist.
Public Health Wales leads on the communication and dissemination work package. Bringing knowledge, experience and expertise to the task of visibility, awareness and acceptance of the project to a wide map of stakeholders. Facilitating effective communication across 26 associated partners and 35 affiliated entities in thirty countries (24 EU members, three EEA/EFTA members and three European neighboring countries) is complex, but vital. Its members represent public health institutes across Europe with the wide ranging experience and understanding of the complicated issues involved, and the strategic and independent insight to deliver a valuable source of evidence for policy-making decisions.