New for 2012
Professor Lightfoot has had a great start to 2012, visiting Brussels for an important meeting with the Kangaroo Group in the European Parliament, receiving an honorary fellowship from Chatham House and developing a number of new information services, which NL Associates will launch later this month.
His motto has always been Expect the Unexpected and his method, preparation. These new projects for 2012 are linked by the central theme of preparedness, and the development of systems for staying ahead of the curve, in Professor Lightfoot’s own words,
‘Early information is key to effective responses and has the added benefit of making you feel more comfortable as a crisis evolves’.
The challenge to everyone working in the field of emergency response is how to get access to, and generate, early information – the difference between a crisis situation spiralling out of control and confident resolution.
Brussels and the Kangaroo Group
Professor Lightfoot travelled to Brussels in early January to meet with the Kangaroo Group to discuss their upcoming spring workshop, ‘Cross-Border Health Threats: is the EU prepared for a bioterrorist attack?’.
The Kangaroo Group is an informal forum, based in the European Parliament, in which politicians, officials and the social partners come together to exchange information and opinion regarding the issues of the day and to devise future initiatives for the development of the European Union.
Professor Lightfoot briefed assembled experts, including MEPs, on the new proposal for European legislation, which aims to provide coordination during crises involving cross border issues.
The main issue under discussion will be how to work towards efficient cross border communication and cooperation in an emergency, no easy task. Public health crises and bioterrorism threats will always have massive implications for neighbouring countries, because of the inevitable delay between outbreak/attack and recognition. In this vulnerable window of time, people will have travelled, and the acute effects of a crisis ripple out undetected.
Proposed legislation includes a mechanism for the joint procurement of medical counter measures. This mechanism means that a small group of countries can work together to help each other in the dual task of preparedness and response.
This legislation specifically addresses issues that arose during the recent influenza pandemic when access to vaccines was not equal and some countries were left at a major disadvantage. Professor Lightfoot’s recommendation to the important players in Brussels was clear-cut – sharing of counter measures across borders will be absolutely essential in any bio-terrorism event – and it is hoped that the planned workshop will expose multisectorial issues, weak spots and cross border challenges.
The Working Group will be in the format of a roundtable discussion on the threats and current levels of preparedness within the EU. It is vital that the most is made of this opportunity in order that the proposed legislation has the best chance of being approved my member states in the Council of Europe. Emerging public health threats continue to surprise us by their spread and impact – it is crucial that Europe is properly prepared.
Professor Lightfoot has been made Associate Fellow of Chatham House, an honorary appointment bestowed in recognition of his work on global heath security. He continues to be involved with the Centre on Global Health Security and has been asked to lead on their new biosecurity project – ‘Safe and Secure Biomaterial in Developing Countries’.
Biosecurity has increased in importance since 9/11. Western countries have raised standards for the safe and secure keeping of potential bioterrorist threat agents, which has often required expensive modifications to laboratories. Bioterrorist threat agents exist, however, as natural infections in many parts of the world, especially in developing countries and the challenge remains of how best to improve biosecurity in poorer nations.
Innovative solutions need to be sought alongside the established route of high-tech facilities, as the Chatham House brief explains, ‘New approaches should be sought that both represent good value for the donor community and leave a lasting and affordable local solution to the challenge of effective disease surveillance, diagnosis, biosafety and biosecurity in resource-poor environments.’
The project aims to inform policy at an international level, resonate with practitioners on the ground and to foster an ongoing engagement with the challenges of global health security.
NL Associates Information Services
Designed to help individuals and organisations stay informed and aware of public health threats worldwide, Nigel Lightfoot Associates Ltd has developed a set of new Information Services for launch in 2012.
Professor Lightfoot and his team of analysts keep a close watch on breaking news, ongoing crisis situations and comment in the international press every day. They are now offering that information and expert advice in a new, streamlined and client focused format:
The Daily Alert mailout, On Demand risk-assessments and Tailored consultancy.
These services are unique to the field and real-time, reducing the hours an individual or a company spends searching online and providing the reassurance that every decision maker needs.
In the context of a public health threat, there are three questions you may be asking:
What is it?
What does it mean?
What does it mean to me?
Our new Information Services have the answers you need. To find out more click here.