India has taken significant strides in its efforts to prepare for future respiratory pandemics through the development of the National Pandemic Preparedness Plan for Respiratory Viruses using a multisectoral approach.
Preceding this national effort, a regional workshop on the Preparedness and Resilience for Emerging Threats (PRET) initiative was organized by WHO’s South-East Asia Regional Office on October 12-13, 2023. Recognizing that the same capacities and capabilities can be leveraged and applied for groups of pathogens based on their mode of transmission, the workshop aimed to facilitate pandemic planning efficiency for countries in the region. The participating countries, in the aftermath of the workshop, outlined their immediate next steps and sought support from WHO and its partners to bolster regional preparedness against respiratory pathogen pandemics.
Participants from during the National Consultative Workshop, 8-9 December 2023. Credit: WHO/India
Subsequently, on 8-9 December 2023, the Ministry of Health and Welfare of the government of India, in collaboration with the WHO country office India, operationalized the PRET initiative. This was achieved through a National Consultative Workshop on the “National Pandemic Preparedness Plan for Respiratory Viruses.” Attended by senior officials from various national and state-level entities, including the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Disaster Management Cell, and academic institutions, the workshop aimed to consolidate expertise and insights on the respiratory pandemic planning in the region.
During the workshop, WHO introduced the PRET initiative, shedding light on its significance and utility in addressing respiratory pandemic pathogen threats. The WHO team also elaborated on collaborative surveillance and its integration with the Strategic Framework for Action for Strengthening Surveillance, Risk Assessment, and Field Epidemiology in the WHO South-East Asia Region. The focus was on how such collaborative surveillance could serve as the cornerstone for detecting and managing respiratory pathogen pandemics holistically.
The two-day event provided a platform for participants to share valuable insights and expertise to refine the National Preparedness and Response Plan for Respiratory Viruses. A notable outcome was the consolidation of recommendations from the expert panel, culminating in the finalization of the content framework by the participants. This comprehensive approach underscores India’s commitment to proactively address and mitigate the impact of future respiratory pandemics.