The 2nd General Assembly of PREZODE (PREventing ZOonotic Disease Emergence) took place on 16th November 2023. Under the main topic “Strengthening Member Synergies”, the meeting emphasized the values of cooperation and collaboration which are at the core of PREZODE. The event was an opportunity to present the achievements of the international initiative since its launch in January 2021, the partnerships with International Organisations and projects progress and to inform about the implementation of its governance bodies. During the GA meeting, two calls for experts were announced, the names of the elected GA President and Vice-President were revealed and a brainstorming session led to productive exchanges between participants, bringing constructive proposals. Please find hereafter a summary of the PREZODE 2023’s GA meeting which includes links to all meeting videos and presentations.
1. OPENING AND WELCOME
The incumbent PREZODE General Assembly Chair, Dr Jean-Luc Angot, welcomed the participants and expressed his gratitude for the community’s involvement in moving PREZODE ahead. He presented PREZODE's latest video summarizing its 2023 achievements.
2. ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA
The Chair submitted for participants' approval the agenda of the meeting, which included the PREZODE Progress Report, the Steering Committee Activities Report, a Presentation of the Pillar Working Groups, Examples of PREZODE actions by Country Members, the state of play of collaboration with Global partners and a speech on One Health-Massive Collaboration for Zoonotic Spillover Prevention at Source. No comments were received, and the agenda was considered approved.
3. MINUTES OF THE GA MEETING OF 11TH OCTOBER 2022
PREZODE Secretary-General, Dr Zeev Noga presented the draft minutes of the 2022 General Assembly, recalling actions and decisions that were then approved, namely the terms of reference of PREZODE governance and the adoption of the Strategic Agenda, which was endorsed by the members in January 2023.
4. NEW PREZODE MEMBERS
According to PREZODE’s rules, organizations applying to PREZODE had to be endorsed by a majority of member voters to become full-fledged members. A list of 31 observer members had been submitted to representatives in October with the request to provide comments if any by 5th November. None was received. The Chair, Dr Angot, opened the vote, inviting representatives to cast their vote in a secured system. Though all 33 ballots expressed approval responses, the quorum was not reached and therefore the vote is to be pursued after the GA by electronic ballot.
Post-meeting notice: On 21st November, the Secretariat conducted an online vote to endorse the list of observer members. The online vote was closed on 5th December, and a quorum was reached. 99% of the voters approved the endorsement of new PREZODE members.
5. PREZODE PROGRESS REPORT
Dr Zeev Noga, Secretary-General of PREZODE, highlighted that the initiative has progressed from the initial phase of raising awareness, political engagement, and increasing membership to a more operational phase. The focus of the new phase is to deliver the goals of the initiative's Strategic Agenda. He presented the progress made during the past year in establishing the initiative's governance bodies and secretariat, as well as its finances. He also discussed the plans to establish the initiative legally and presented the advocacy and partnership activities.
6. STEERING COMMITTEE ACTIVITIES
The Chair of the PREZODE Steering Committee (SC) Dr Musso Munyeme introduced the report on activities led by the Committee since its establishment in July 2023. He reminded the Assembly of the role of the SC: to elaborate and submit to the GA the strategic orientations for the initiative and to make decisions on several actions. The members of the SC, renowned experts to lead scientific working groups on international and regional levels, elected in May 2023, have already started their work: to implement the Scientific Strategic Agenda, to represent PREZODE on high-level platforms, and to provide guidance on the implementation of the Donors Committee and international organizations college.
7. PILLAR WGS AND CALL FOR EXPERTS
Dr Manon Lounnas, Global Science Officer, highlighted the objective, tasks, and deliverables of the five pillar working groups (PWG), which will explore the main research themes identified during the co-design process of the Strategic Agenda, each supporting an array of potential operational actions. She explained how the Groups, each comprising up to 25 experts, will be composed and work in close contact with members of the Steering Committee. The Pillar Working Groups shall represent the broad range of disciplines relevant to One Health, including those related to science and policy-related sectors, with geographic and gender balance. A call for experts to be endorsed by PREZODE members will be launched on the 1st of December 2023. She concluded by presenting the timeline and roadmap of the PWG. At the question “Will projects be funded under each of the pillars?”, Dr. Lounnas answered “For now, we don’t have a budget dedicated to fund projects under each of the pillars, but this could be a concrete objective to implement concrete actions within each pillar. The strategy will be discussed within each PWG”.
8. PREZODE PROJECTS, PROGRAMS, AND SYNERGIES
This part of the GA meeting intended to explore various projects and programs developed with PREZODE support or within the initiative.
A. EXAMPLES OF ACTIONS BY COUNTRY MEMBERS
- THE BELGIAN PREZODE NETWORK: ACTIVITIES AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NATIONAL POLICY
Maud Istasse, Expert Senior Environment, Federal Public Service Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment of Belgium, presented how the Inter-Ministerial Conference Environment, Scientific research, Human health, Animal health, Foreign affairs, and International development develops concretely PREZODE in Belgium through a mandate for a one World One Health vision. Through an open participative process, workshops were organized throughout the year, which resulted in seven key policy recommendations addressed to the ministers.
- PANDEMIC FUND ALLOCATIONS TO ZAMBIA
Dr Raymond Hamoonga, One Health Coordinator at the National Public Health Institute, gave an overview of the implementation of Zambia National One Health Program: elaboration process of the program, and the country's priorities (governance, surveillance, preparedness and response, advocacy, research). He then described the areas in which the Pandemic Fund is investing, with challenges ahead.
Two questions were raised about the role and value of the PREZODE initiative in the process of applying to the Pandemic Fund and getting the allocation. Dr Raymond Hamoonga replied:
“Having established a priority zoonotic disease list, the National Public Health Institute envisioned the expertise in the wider PREZODE will be invaluable in designing control and elimination strategies for these zoonotic incursions, including setting up surveillance at the point of source. The National Public Health Institute application to the Pandemic Fund was also supported by PREZODE recommendation”.
, Chair of the PREZODE SC underlined the crucial role of the Zambia National One Health Program and his coordinator:
“Currently we have a serious outbreak of Anthrax in Zambia and one of Raymond Hamoonga's key tasks has been to bring all actors from Health, Animal Sector, Environment, Local Authorities into a One Health Multisectoral, a unified approach to tackle Anthrax. So far, his efforts have been impactful, especially in strengthening cooperation. Working with all initiatives is important, and PREZODE is one of the key initiatives recognized by the Zambian government in the fight against Zoonotic diseases”.
- THE CRITICAL ROLE OF SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT IN DEVELOPING THE PANDEMIC FUND PROPOSALS
Dr Franck Berthe presented the first outcomes of the Pandemic Fund, which was established in September 2022. For a new dedicated funding mechanism for pandemic preparedness and response (PPR). The first round of funding (US$ 338 million), has been allocated in 19 grants, involving 37 countries. Adding to them, the Fund brought US$1.84 billion in co-financing and US$255 million in co-investment. He highlighted two of the funded programs, one in India, on animal health security strengthening for PPR, and one to strengthen integrated early warning surveillance, laboratory systems, and workforce development in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Reacting to the low engagement of civil society, a member emphasized the willingness of NGOs to support the implementation of proposals and asked how this issue would be addressed in the 2nd round of proposals. Franck Berthe advised mobilizing civil society networks in countries and regions where Pandemic Fund projects are moving into the implementation phase. He also encouraged the participants to engage with CSO representatives on the Governing Board. Replying to a question on the number of proposals received for the first round, Dr Berthe indicated that 135 eligible proposals were received in May 2023 and that the Governing Board will soon decide about the next round of funding and the available envelope for grants. This should provide new opportunities to submit projects.
B. PREZODE PROJECTS
Dr Benjamin Roche, PREZODE Co-founder and Global Science Leader gave a short introduction about the two current programs: PREACTS (for PREzode in ACTion in the global South) and the PEPR a French program to support academic research in France. The two first PREACTS projects are currently being rolled out, with AFRICAM launched in Cambodia, Cameroon, Congo, Guinea-Conakry, and Senegal) and ASAMCO to start in three areas: Central America (Mexico, Costa Rica, and Haiti), Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo), and Asia (Laos and Thailand).
- AFRICAM IN MADAGASCAR: TOWARDS AN INTEGRATED COMMUNITY SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM
After recalling the specific context of Madagascar (high risk of emergence and extreme poverty), Mariot Rasolonjatovoarinoro, from PIVOT NGO, explained the current implementation of a One Health surveillance system in the country. He underlined the case of the rural district of Ifanadiana, where Ranomafana National Park – rainforest- is located, established as a model district for universal health coverage in the country. Building from this experience, the AFRICAM project in Madagascar aims to better integrate into a unified, coherent model, to respond effectively to the needs of stakeholders at different levels, whether district, regional, or global. The key components of this approach are the strengthening of the community health program and information systems for better decision-making. Unfortunately, due to a connection issue during the meeting, M Rasolonjatovoarinoro was not able to provide a full description of the project.
- ASAMCO IN COSTA RICA: LEARNING FROM A TRADITION THAT PRESERVES, EDUCATES, AND CARES FOR HEALTH
Dr Andrea Chaves, from Universidad de Costa Rica, underlined the policy driver set in Costa Rica: Learning from a tradition that preserves, educates, and cares for health. Thanks to its commitment to biodiversity conservation and environmental protection, the country has maintained a strong and accessible public health system throughout its history, with public education being a fundamental pillar of the country's development. The ASAMCO program will help establish working tables to define the route and strategy to be followed for early warning systems, in cooperation with government partners, NGOs, and Civil Society to define the way forward. Through ASAMCO, Costa Rica aims: to characterize and evaluate the risk; monitor, provide capacity building and strengthening; and elaborate an inclusive prevention strategy. To the question: “How does tourism affect biodiversity?”, Andrea Chaves explained that, in Costa Rica, tourism is mostly ecotourism, causing a risk of interaction between wild animals and humans. This causes the possibility of disease transmission (on both routes), behavioural changes in the animals and an increase in the number of people in border areas.
- PEPR PREZODE: EMPOWERING PROJECT LEADERS TO COLLECT AND MANAGE DATA
Dr Paula Caceres, PREZODE Chief Data Officer presented the data action that will be conducted in the French Priority Research Programmes and Equipment (Programmes et Equipements Prioritaires de Recherche, i.e. PEPR). In that framework, she underlined that projects under the PEPR PREZODE will all generate data, that must be findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR). A PEPR Data Working Group, bringing together experts in various disciplines – epidemiology, veterinary, human health, biology, ecology, social sciences, and database management…- has already started working on the methodology, identifying the needs of “principal investigators” in the management of their data, identifying solutions for managing access and using research data and identifying existing platforms.
- PREZODE LABELLING FORMAL ENDORSEMENT SCHEME
On behalf of Dr Marisa Peyre, PREZODE Co-founder and Global Science Leader, Dr Zeev Noga, introduced the principles for the development of the PREZODE endorsement process for projects, programs, and initiatives. A Working Group, involving 23 experts, works on the process. The PREZODE endorsement (or label) aims: 1) to promote the implementation of the PREZODE scientific reference framework; 2) to ensure the sustainability of the paradigm shift; 3) to increase the visibility of science-based solutions to inform policy and decision-makers. Projects applying to PREZODE endorsement will have to adhere to PREZODE objectives and values, respect fundamental safeguarding principles (human rights, animal ethics, livelihood, and the environment), and must not intend to alter or negatively impact biosecurity. Find out more about the process. The procedure’s terms of reference are under the drafting process.
C. COLLABORATION WITH GLOBAL PARTNERS
- WHO -PREZODE JOINT WORKING GROUP: QUANTITATIVE INDICATORS FOR RISK OF ZOONOTIC DISEASE EMERGENCE
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Acting Director of the Prevention and Preparedness Department at WHO, recalled the launch of WHO/PREZODE WG a year ago, to address the identification of risks, and to have a strong technical approach to work with communities on the ground. The joint group brings together 15 experts of complementary disciplines, from mathematical modelling and population dynamics experts to ecology and social science experts, in a concrete One Health approach. Currently, the group focuses on models with some examples of pathogens (Arboviruses, Hendra viruses, coronaviruses, avian influenza, and tick-borne diseases) to have effective indicators. The consolidation of the results and draft report should be delivered in March 2024.
- FAO -PREZODE JOINT WORKING GROUP ON RETURN ON INVESTMENT OF ONE HEALTH INITIATIVE FOCUSING ON PREVENTION OF EMERGING RISKS
Dr Barbara Haesler, Knowledge and Evidence Lead for One Health, FAO, explained the objectives of the joint group on Return on Investment: to gather a community of practices and share the knowledge for investment products. Aligned with the Quadripartite’s One Health Joint Plan of Action, the approach will compare the description of costs with the benefits. An online space for the ROI community of practices was to be launched on 20th November 2023. A call for experts will be open to PREZODE and ROI communities of practices in the coming days. To the question, of whether the PREZODE-FAO group will liaise with the joint WHO-PREZODE working group, Barbara Haesler answered that it would be good to explore synergies, after the current stage of shaping the group.
9. ONE HEALTH MASSIVE COLLABORATION FOR ZOONOTOC SPILLOVER PREVENTION AT THE SOURCE
Dr Noel Lee Miranda, Global Health Security and One Health Advisor, GH-TAMS, Philippines gave a keynote speech on One Health, which is to be viewed as a concept, a strategy, and a virtue. From this perspective, One Health is a systematic approach to effectively address the triple planetary crisis (climate change, biodiversity loss, and ecosystem degradation) which reduces the risk of zoonotic spillover hinges, indirectly and directly.
10. NEXT STEPS
Dr Jean-Luc Angot presented the next steps of PREZODE’s development: launch of the Pillars Working groups work, establishment of legal status, launch of a fundraising strategy, establishment of the Donor & Ethics Committees and of the Scientific Advisory Board, finalizing of the Labelling ToR, call for new projects and new members to join PREZODE.
11. 2024 GOALS, MILESTONES, AND SCIENTIFIC ORIENTATION
The purpose of the brainstorming session was to initiate discussions among PREZODE members regarding the initiative's scientific and operational approach toward contributing to global pandemic prevention and response efforts. Dr. Jean-Francois Soussana, PREZODE Co-founder, and Global Science Leader, constructively moderated the session. The participants were engaged in a meaningful exchange, which included three question sessions. The first session focused on How to achieve the PREZODE mission and goals. The second session is on Creating synergies for greater impact, and the third session is on Sustaining PREZODE in the long term. Please find hereafter a summary of the discussions.
A. HOW TO ARCHIEVE THE PREZODE MISSION AND GOALS?
Several members emphasized the importance of promoting science and making research results more accessible and useful to civil society and policymakers. To this end, PREZODE, in partnership with the Global Fund and the Paris Peace Forum, jointly issued a call for strengthening science-policy dialogue. Members highlighted the significance of enhancing collaboration at local and global levels to achieve the goals of PREZODE. Local collaboration can improve alert and surveillance mechanisms, while the global level can facilitate policymaking and experience-sharing. Members suggested greater collaboration among countries on PREZODE projects and recommended leveraging artificial intelligence where applicable. To promote PREZODE's goals of investing in prevention strategies, members called for increased advising, media campaigns, lobbying, and activism at the global level. They also pointed to the UN Secretary-General's "Our Common Agenda" for the future of global cooperation as a real opportunity to adopt a global One Health approach to address health challenges.
B. CREATING SYNERGIES FOR GREATER IMPACT
Several participants put forward suggestions on how to enhance collaboration and productivity among members. They recommended various methods such as matchmaking events, expert meetings, and webinars. The participants also emphasized the importance of promoting global actions, involving all stakeholders, and creating a space for joint work between government, academia, and communities. It was suggested that regional and local needs and knowledge should be considered, through North-South and South-South interchange. The members highlighted the need to increase the membership of PREZODE. This can be achieved by inviting countries and diverse entities, such as engineers, agronomists, social workers, and indigenous communities to join. This will enable the exchange of best practices and the formation of more informal working groups on specific topics. It was suggested that a dedicated online portal should be created to facilitate knowledge and information sharing.
C. SUSTAINING PREZODE IN THE LONG TERM
During the meeting, several members emphasized the importance of establishing PREZODE as a legal and independent entity. They believed this to be the first crucial step towards ensuring its long-term sustainability. Additionally, the members suggested that PREZODE should aim to have more concrete joint projects in various regions and hot-spot countries. This could be achieved with the support of countries and funding organizations. Some members proposed the creation of post-doctoral positions to support the PREZODE working groups.
12. HANDOVER OF THE PREZODE PRESIDENCY
The outgoing GA Chair, Dr. Jean-Luc Angot expressed his gratitude for his presidency and thanked the PREZODE members and Secretariat for their productive collaboration during his tenure since 2021. All the GA participants applauded and thanked him. Dr Angot welcomed the incoming PREZODE GA President, Dr Papa Seck from Senegal and GA Vice-President, Dr Soawapak Hinjoy from Thailand. Both made a declaration on their view on their new mandate.
Dr. Papa SECK - PREZODE GA President
Dr. Soawapak HINJOY - PREZODE GA vice President
13. CLOSURE OF THE GA MEETING
Dr Papa Seck, the newly elected President, concluded the 2nd PREZODE GA Meeting by expressing his gratitude to all the members for their participation and fruitful discussions. The PREZODE Secretary-General mentioned that the Secretariat would explore the possibility of holding the GA meeting in person in 2024, in conjunction with a global health event.