The action aims at supporting cooperation and coordination of Member States (MS) to improve their capacities at points of entry (PoE) including ports, airports and ground crossings, in preventing and combating cross-border health threats from the transport sector. In future public health emergencies of international concern, the action will move from interepidemic mode to emergency mode supporting coherent response as per Decision No 1082/2013/EU, International Health Regulations and temporary recommendations. The action objectives will be achieved through: a) facilitating exchange of identified best practices for management of public health events, vector surveillance and control, contingency planning, validated preparedness and response plans and options for improved detection and surveillance of public health events at PoE; b) supporting MS in validating contingency plans by using assessment tools and conduct of tabletop/simulation exercises; c) providing distance and face-to-face training at local, national, European levels about contingency planning and management of events due to infections, vectors, chemical, environmental or other agents at PoE; d) supporting rapid information exchange through electronic tools by the established network for PoE; e) supporting execution of inspections on ships and airplanes; f) producing guidelines to be used by MS for dealing with chemical threats, inter-country communication and information flow in outbreak investigations and management of events on ships, for vector surveillance and control activities at PoE, for inspecting aircrafts and ships including their cargoes for vectors and auditing guidelines for hygiene inspections on ships; g) supporting intersectorial cooperation by promoting implementation of MoU among different sectors at PoE and organizing exchange of visits and exercises among PoE of neighbouring countries. The action falls under the thematic priority 2.2 of Annex I of the 2017 Annual Work Programme.
The Joint Action EU HEALTHY GATEWAYS is funded by the European Union under the Third Health Programme (2014-2020) and specifically falls under thematic priority 2.2 of Annex I of the 2017 Annual Work Programme. The Joint Action will run for a period of 36 months beginning 1 May 2018 and encompasses 31 participating competent authorities from 27 EU Member States. The action aims to support the cooperation and coordination of Member States to improve their capacities at points of entry – including ports, airports and ground crossings – in preventing and combating cross-border health threats from the transport sector. In the event of future public health emergencies of international concern (PHEIC), the Joint Action will move from the interepidemic mode to an emergency mode, to support the coherent response according to Decision No 1082/2013/EU, International Health Regulations and temporary recommendations.
Methods for completing the specific objectives of the Joint Action include
- Literature reviews
- Development of guidance documents and training materials
- Table top and simulation exercises
- Site visits
- Training courses
- Conveyance inspections and inspection audits
- Expert working group meetings
- Surveys and questionnaires
During the first month of the action, a Management Plan and Consortium Agreement were prepared, with the Consortium Agreement submitted as a deliverable.
The first Joint Action Steering Committee meeting was held during month 1 of the action, to discuss work that will begin on several milestones. This meeting also reviewed management processes (communication, financial and technical reporting) and outlined preparations for the Joint Action Kick-off meeting. Moreover, under Work Package 1, the procedure for collecting Work Progress Reports from Work Package leaders has begun. The Joint Action Kick-off meeting took place during month 2 (12-13 June 2018) of the action in Varna, Bulgaria where 58 participants from 22 EUMS and representatives from DG SANTE, CHAFEA, ECDC, EASA, FRONTEX and the maritime industry had the opportunity to present and discuss the work plan. Under the framework of this Kick-off meeting, the first Advisory Board meeting, Sustainability Working Group meeting, Steering Committee meeting and Evaluation Working Group meeting were organized. Meetings of the technical working groups for ground, air and maritime transport also took place during the Kick-off meeting.
The process for establishing Joint Action working groups (including groups for ground crossings, maritime and air transport) is underway, and the Joint Action has begun contacting experts at the EU/international level (in ground crossings, air and maritime sector) to participate in these working groups.
Work on several Joint Action milestones has begun under the subject-matter Work Packages 5, 6, 7. Questionnaires are being developed to identify best practices in the ground crossings, air and maritime transport sector and criteria on deciding about best practices. Teleconferences have taken place between Work Package leaders to discuss the methodology and content of these criteria and questionnaires.
Also on-going are preparations to develop the integrated web portal and discussions about developing social media and YouTube channels for the Joint Action.
Further to that, discussions about methodology for milestones under Work Package 9 have taken place, to begin conducting an overview of characteristics for effective education/training interventions and an inventory (of needs assessment and training objectives).
During the first month of the action, a Consortium Agreement and a Management Plan for the Joint Action have been developed. Both these documents will promote the effective communication and cooperation between all parties involved in the action. The documents will also ensure there is clear agreement between the Joint Action consortium and stakeholders about the standards, procedures and methods employed to meet expected outcomes in a timely manner. The Kick-off meeting took place, allowing Joint Action partners/collaborating stakeholders, EC DG representatives and maritime industry representatives to meet and become familiar with the Joint Action objectives, processes and expected outcomes. The Kick-off meeting also provided these target groups a forum to discuss and define the methodology to be used to perform Joint Action activities.
To date, the achieved outcomes have met the expected outcomes. The Joint Action has submitted the first draft of its first deliverable (the Consortium Agreement among partners). In addition, several of the work package milestones are underway and on track to meet the milestone deadlines in the first 3 months of the action.
The Joint Action is expected to improve coordinated cross-sectoral actions to control infectious disease transmission and possible vectors for pathogens on ground transportation, on ships, and in aircrafts, in case of a serious cross-border threat to health affecting or inherently coming from the transport sector.
Dissemination activities for the action have begun. Joint Action logo options have been designed and a final logo was determined by participants at the Kick-off meeting. Under the Joint Action’s dissemination Work Package, a questionnaire, using SWOT as a stakeholder analysis tool has been developed, and logistics disseminating the tool to stakeholders in the maritime and air sector are being determined. This analysis will define the Joint Action stakeholders and determine how they would like to be involved in the action.
Leaders of Work Package 5 (ground crossings) presented the Joint Action at an event hosted by the International Union of Railways (UIC).
In addition, the Evaluation Working Group had its first meeting (under the framework of the Joint Action Kick-off meeting) and discussions took place about the evaluation methodology to be used or the Joint Action.