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Open call for experts WHO /PREZODE

Open call for experts WHO /PREZODE
The World Health Organization and PREZODE are seeking experts to serve as members of the joint working group "Preventing future pandemics: monitoring risk reduction of emerging zoonotic diseases".

The context

The world faces continuous threats from the emergence of infectious diseases with epidemic and pandemic potential. The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 that triggered the COVID-19 pandemic was feared by many in the scientific and public health communities. This pandemic has shown how a pathogen can impact every aspect of our daily life and impose a dramatic burden on our societies. Today, it is crucial to improve our preparedness, readiness and response to potential new pandemics. However, this has to be done through the development of sustainable prevention strategies against emerging zoonoses through the reduction of spillover potential.

What do we need?

Despite the fact that investing heavily in prevention strategies against zoonotic emergence would cost only 1% of the expected cost for the COVID-19 pandemic, academic and operational works aiming to envision and implement such strategies still do not meet the agenda of funding or public health agencies. One of the reasons for this is that quantifying this emergence risk is extremely complicated since they are truly multidimensional and multifactorial. However, the absence of widely accepted indicators hampers the possibility to evaluate the impact of prevention strategies. Therefore, operationalizing the One Health approach to develop these prevention strategies requires simple indicators representing how the risk of spillover and amplification can be reduced.

How to reach this objective?

The objectives of the proposed working group will be to elaborate a cutting-edge framework aiming to produce simple indicators that are able to quantify the risk of zoonotic disease emergence. As a first step, the work conducted will focus on WHO R&D blueprint priority pathogen list and on additional pathogens for which WHO has programs of work.

As the risks are multifactorial, a wide range of parameters will be considered (biological, socioeconomic, climate, land use, pathogen diversities, animal husbandry and trade, surveillance networks, etc...). This quantitative assessment will provide a baseline and targets for risk reduction (by geographic location and family of pathogens) in order to help guide prevention strategies and measure the impact of interventions.

Impact measured by the indicators:

The indicators will have to characterize a maximization of the positive impact on human health while minimizing the negative impact on other dimensions (socio-economic, food security, animal health, etc.), especially by considering the local context where these indicators are calculated. If no indicators are able to represent such impact, a composite score will be envisioned.

Initial roadmap (Meetings are expected every two months)

First step: Reviewing existing tools and available data

  • Identifying existing statistical frameworks that are already developed and could be relevant to quantify the risk of zoonotic emergence (focusing on pathogens with a high risk of emergence/re-emergence) based on WHO hotspot of zoonotic emergence mapping exercise and relevant previous works from international groups
  • Identifying the critical factors that have to be included inside each of these frameworks
  • Gathering existing data as necessary, especially from the United Nations system

Second step: Developing a composite score

  • (iv) Selecting quantitative indicators that may be relevant and develop a composite score
  • Quantifying the association between (a) emergence risk forecasted through the identified simple indicators and (b) the observed events of zoonotic disease emergence
  • Comparing these indicators with other risk assessment tools

Third step: Testing, validating and improving the scoring system

  • Convene regional experts for WHO, FAO, WOAH, UNEP, academic and operational experts to review, analyze the risk of emergence through time reported by the indicators to check their biological, epidemiological and sociological relevance
  • Revision/updating as necessary and adoption of a first framework and the best indicators to monitor zoonotic risk emergence, as well as identifying gaps in order to improve the methodology.

Outputs of the working group

Deliverable 1: First draft of methodology, identification of knowledge/data gaps and outline critical research avenues/data that are needed to improve substantially the first set of indicators

Deliverable 2: Draft sets of preliminary indicators that can be measured quickly and used by national and international health authorities when implementation of prevention strategies is discussed

Who can apply?

Up to 20 experts (taking into consideration gender, geographic and thematic representativity) will be selected jointly by the World Health Organization and the PREZODE initiative through a call for participation in their respective networks. The group will be ideally composed of experts:

  • with different relevant skills (statistical analysis, ecology, and evolution of infectious diseases, anthropology, sociology, etc.) and Zoonotic risk quantification WG
  • working on different host species (e.g., rodents, bats, mosquitoes).
  • Different kinds of individuals (e.g., from research institutions, NGOs, local health authorities, etc.) are encouraged to apply, from different stages of professional development.

In addition, 1 or 2 data scientists will be funded by WHO and PREZODE, to support the work of the working group.

How to apply?

The final selection of the WG will be carried out by selected jointly by the World Health Organization and the PREZODE initiative), which will ensure the best possible coverage in terms of disciplines, geographic and gender balance.

Important dates and information
• Publication of the call for experts: October 11th, 2022:
• Deadline to candidate: October 31th, 2022 before midnight CEST
• Selection of 20 experts: November 15th, 2022
• Kick-off meeting of the working group: December 1st, 2022
• The working group


Maria Van Kerkhove -

Sylvie Briand -

Rebecca Grant -

Benjamin Roche –

Manon Lounnas –