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EURONET – P4 [-] [2003214] - Project
General objectives

Development of a network of the existing European P4 reference laboratories. - Improvement of laboratory diagnostic capabilities, in particular for rapid, safe and sensitive identification of viruses causing haemorrhagic fevers, emerging encephalitis, and smallpox. - Recommendation and promotion of joint research programmes oriented to therapy and prevention of diseases caused by class 4 agents. - Establishment of a co-operation agreement covering training, communication and service availability between the reference P4 laboratories and identified laboratories from all Member States to facilitate global awareness, preparedness, and response to public health threats associated with class 4 agents.

Strategic relevance and contribution to the public health programme

Among the class 4 agents, those causing viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) and smallpox have been widely identified as having the greatest potential for adverse public health impact with high morbidity and mortality, extensive dissemination, and for instilling fear into the target population. The purpose of this project is to promote a European network of expertise so as to enhance the region`s capability to respond rapidly and in a co-ordinated way to health threats involving these infectious agents. This enhanced capability will apply equally to importation or natural emergence of these disease agents, and to countering the threat of deliberate release.

Methods and means

Designation of an action group including scientists and physicians with particular expertise in class 4 viruses to: - Rapidly identify the gaps to be filled in order to reinforce the P4 laboratory network for co-ordinated and effective surveillance and diagnosis of viral haemorrhagic fevers, emerging encephalitis and smallpox. - Review current laboratory diagnostic capabilities for class 4 agents and arrange for the exchange of the most effective methods among the different laboratories. - Establish mechanisms for information sharing, with rapid communication to relevant national authorities, to the European Commission and to the World Health Organisation. In addition, laboratory procedures and methodologies were intended to be reviewed among the P4 laboratories in order to: - identify and stimulate the development of the necessary high quality reagents for the implementation of biohazard-free diagnostic systems to be shared among the P4 laboratories and transferred to appropriate laboratories of all Member States and developing countries. - Identify and exchange validated procedures for inactivation of infectivity in reagents for diagnostic assays to facilitate safe work procedures in Member State laboratories. A consultative group of experts was intended to be assembled for emergency response, with capabilities in both laboratory support and medical and epidemiological work in the field.

Expected outcomes period

The promotion of an EU Response Network for P4 Virus Infections (EURONET P4) to co-ordinate and standardise:1) the accurate diagnosis of class 4 agents, 2) the training and exchange of personnel between laboratories in all Member States, and 3) improve the capacity for effective response against natural or deliberate threats to public health involving these infectious agents. - Non-infectious diagnostic reagents were intended to be standardised and made available for exchange between P4 reference laboratories and for delivery to Member State laboratories. - Periodically upgraded procedures and recommendations for biosecurity, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and transportation of class 4 agents were intended to be produced and made available to participating organisations on a secure website. - Communication channels between the network and appropriate national and international organisations and the European Commission were intended to be reinforced: listing of relevant organisations, laboratories, and experts, with phone, fax, web site and e-mail access routes will be compiled. Means for diffusion of information between the reference P4 laboratories within the secured website will be developed. Teleconferences, annual meetings, mechanisms for short- and long-term visiting scientist participation from other laboratories in Member States were intended to be organised to sustain actions promoting the network and scientific publications issued from collaborative work inside the network encouraged.

Start date: 01/01/2005
End date: 01/01/2008
Duration: 36 month(s)
Current status: Finalised
Programme title: First Programme of Community action in the field of public health (2003-2008)
EC Contribution: € 624 983,00