Welcoming a new era for respiratory pathogen pandemic preparedness in the Western Balkans and the Republic of Moldova

To help countries prepare for future respiratory pandemics, the WHO Regional Office for Europe organized a workshop for senior government and public health officials from the Western Balkans and the Republic of Moldova to introduce the new Preparedness and Resilience for Emerging Threats (PRET) initiative to strengthen pandemic preparedness.

The workshop focused on identifying lessons from COVID-19 to inform future pandemic preparedness and on introducing new approaches to prepare for future pandemics caused by respiratory pathogens, including influenza.

In April 2023, WHO launched the PRET initiative as well as a Global Call to Action to strengthen pandemic preparedness by:

  • updating national pandemic plans
  • increasing connectivity among stakeholders, and
  • ensuring dedicated investments in pandemic preparedness

Through the PRET initiative, WHO applies a mode of transmission approach to guide countries in pandemic planning, given that many systems, capacities, and capabilities are common among groups of pathogens.

The workshop highlighted the importance of countries reviewing and learning from their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic to improve respiratory pathogen pandemic preparedness. This includes updating pandemic preparedness plans and strengthening essential capacities to be prepared for the next pandemic which require high level commitment and long-term investments. Participating countries and territories highlighted a need for e.g. digitalizing healthcare systems, refining procurement and supply chains for pandemic-related products, and ensuring involvement of multiple sectors and communities in pandemic planning..

The interest and willingness to embark on national pandemic preparedness plan revisions following the workshop was noteworthy. Work is already underway to organise workshops to kickstart this process as the WHO Regional Office for Europe supports countries in pandemic preparedness plan revisions and related capacity building to ensure that preparedness is strengthened ahead of the next respiratory pathogen pandemic.

/Public Release. View in full here.