The objective of this proposal is to consolidate, strengthen and test the outputs from previous European Commission (EC) Executive Agency for Health and Consumers (EAHC) funded projects;- Alerting System for Chemical Health Threats (ASHT), Chemical and Radiological Inventory of Medical Countermeasures(CARIMEC), Chemical and Radiation Risk Assessment Network(CARRA-Net), through consultation and exercises with end-users (i.e. Health Security Committee (HSC) Chemical, Biological, Radio-Nuclear (CBRN) working group) and multi-sectoral stakeholders at the European Union (EU) and Member State (MS) level. The network of risk-assessors/managers (initiated in CARRA-Net) will be further developed to operate in pilot mode during the project for activation during a transboundary chemical incident with potential public health implications.
Based on lessons learnt from recent public health emergencies and building on existing EU level instruments related to health threats, there is a strategic need for the set up of a coherent framework to manage action as no country can tackle a cross border public health crisis on its own. So far, EU legislation in this area only addresses threats related to communicable diseases, and proposed legislation to address this will require a mechanism and network of competent authorities and assessors to adequately address this need (Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on serious cross-border threats to health, 2011/0421 (COD)). The project will add value to the EU policies being formed by setting up a pilot network and preparing a mechanism, guidance documents and test exercises to be implemented by any future legislation.
The project seeks to standardise and sustain MS response to cross border chemical events with a public health impact. It will set up a pilot network of responders in MS involving poison centres (PC) and health authorities, and apply the use of tools developed by previous EU co-funded projects. A standardised approach will be rolled out to facilitate the engagement of as many MS as possible. A number of exercises will be run to test the system and the lessons learnt will be recorded and incorporated into the SOPs, guidance documents and protocols that have already been drafted through other EC funded projects (CARRA-Net, CARIMEC and ASHT). If the situation arises, the network will be tested on live events. The project will involve the engagement of PCs, public health authorities and multi-sectoral organisations involved in responding to chemical incidents, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other EU Directorates.
The project outputs will ensure that experiences and best practices can be shared between MS and that the approach is complementary to other sectors and lessons learnt from other systems e.g. the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (CPM) and Early Warning and Response System for Communicable Diseases (EWRS). The project outcomes will enable an efficient and coherent EU-level response to potentially devastating cross-border events through: the pilot network, consistent use of RAS-CHEM (e.g. in assigning alert levels), and use of standardised SOPs and guidance on chemical incident management. This approach will be of particular value for MS with less capacity and expertise to respond to national chemical events as well as the EU and MS during a transnational incident. No formal arrangements exist in the field of public health at EU level to coordinate responses to such events and this project aims to provide a more standardised mechanism to assess health impacts and coordinate actions between MS. This action will support MS in implementing the International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005).