Mexico Signs Two Agreements to Prevent Future PandemicsBy Rodrigo Brugada | Thu, 06/24/2021 - 09:37
Mexico is the first country in Latin America to sign a cooperation agreement to prevent future incidences of zoonotic diseases and potential pandemics. The Preventing Zoonotic Disease Emergence (PREZODE) agreement was introduced by French President Emmanuel Macron earlier this year during the One Planet Summit. The initiative aims to promote and integrate research on animal, human and environmental health to understand zoonotic disease emergence risks better. It will also act as a bridge to establish conversations with stakeholders to co-design evidence-based public policies for the creation of monitoring and early warning systems. The agreement seeks to support policies aimed at reducing the risk of zoonotic disease emergence, thus reducing the risk of future pandemics.
The initiative works under the broader framework of One Health, which understands the health-disease processes through a wider lens than the anthropocentric approach of traditional public health. It envisions that in order to achieve better health, a balance must be stricken between human activity, animal health and environmental health. The One Health Commission defines it as “a collaborative, multisectoral and trans-disciplinary approach - working at local, regional, national and global levels – to achieve optimal health and well-being outcomes recognizing the interconnections between people, animals, plants and their shared environment.” This approach allows for understanding that infectious diseases with the potential to grow to pandemic proportions usually come from animals, as was the case with the 2009 porcine flu and possibly so with COVID-19.
The signing of this initiative allowed the creation of the “El Dorado” International Joint Laboratory, made up of researchers from UNAM and the French Institute for Research and Development (IRD). The latter is one of the leaders in the field and brings together more than a thousand researchers thanks to institutional cooperation in the EU. The laboratory will work from Merida to identify potential health risks and improve sanitary regulation and will be financed by the IRD, UNAM, CONACyT and several institutions and funds from the EU. This cooperation project is the first collaboration agreement between the French Embassy and COFEPRIS to promote exchanges between the regulatory institutions of both nations and optimize authorization processes for clinical trials, drugs or medical devices that have already been approved internationally.
Mexico also became the first country in the region to establish alliances with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) to prevent sanitary threats. Mexico’s Health Minister, Jorge Alcocer, held a virtual meeting with ECDC Director Andrea Ammon to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to ease collaboration. The memorandum covers the mutual exchange of information, envisions consultations on emerging health threats concerning Mexico or the EU and allows for more active participation in scientific meetings and workshops. It also provides the groundwork to establish exchanges of personnel and educational and teaching materials.
Alcocer stated that “The Memorandum will strengthen relations with the EU Center for Disease Prevention and Control on epidemiological surveillance, in addition to promoting actions focused on the benefit of the population. I am sure that the joint effort will allow us to mitigate future health emergencies and, in due course, avoid catastrophic sanitary issues such as the one we unfortunately suffered due to COVID-19.” For her part, Ammon stated that “The only way towards increased health security globally is through strengthened cooperation and alignment. We welcome Mexico among our closest partners. We are looking forward to working jointly for the benefit and protection of health of all people in the EU and Mexico.”