Global Emerging and Persistent Infectious Diseases (GEPID)
Background: Experiences from infectious disease (ID) outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics have repeatedly shown that a lack of foresight and preparedness for infectious disease threats is a tragic mistake. The global impacts of ID on individual lives, public health systems, economic sustainability, and even societal stability have routinely been catastrophic. New ID outbreaks and pandemics, with unfortunate certainty, are anticipated to be significant global events in the foreseeable future. Recent experiences reinforce the obvious conclusion that effectively combating ID outbreaks in any given region and/or population requires global cooperation, shared resources, and detailed commitments. These collaborative efforts need to bridge often conflicting geopolitical priorities with policies and decisions optimizing sustainable public health, environmental, and economic outcomes. To foster the development of policies and decisions that effectively prepare for, and respond to, existing and emerging ID events, the Institute on Science for Global Policy (ISGP) is organizing the multi-year, multi-venue “Global Emerging and Persistent Infectious Diseases” (GEPID) Program. Negotiations are underway to sequentially convene in-person and internet-based ISGP GEPID Conferences in the United States, Europe, Africa, Latin America, and potentially Asia. At each ISGP GEPID event, respected subject-matter experts and leaders from governmental, private sector, public advocacy, and communication communities worldwide gather to identify and debate realistic scientific, technological, economic, communication, and policy options derived from broad Areas of Consensus (AoC) and Actionable Next Steps (ANS) addressing real-world ID challenges. ISGP GEPID Conference agenda are based on hundreds of confidential interviews conducted by ISGP staff with subject-matter experts and credentialed individuals from governmental, private sector, and public advocacy communities who have expertise and experience leading decades of societal efforts combating ID outbreaks writ large. While recent COVID-19 experiences are considered, agendas in ISGP GEPID Conferences emphasize the increasingly recognized need for policies and decisions reflecting international perspectives and priorities. ISGP GEPID Conference invitees are selected to provide the expertise and experience underpinning overarching commitments needed to combat ID events worldwide. Publicly articulating the recognized benefits of these actions, while candidly sharing potential risks, is essential to obtaining endorsements and sustained support from the public writ large. Agendas for ISGP GEPID conferences also reflect critical advice emerging from consultations with a voluntary Global Advisory Panel (GAP-EPID) populated by distinguished subject-matter experts and major international stakeholders who are committed to effectively combating ID outbreaks worldwide. While earlier ISGP programs have addressed EPID issues, the ISGP GEPID Program is the first to focus on identifying areas of global consensus and ANS having global significance.