April 19, 2024

WHO’s IPSN unveils $4 million catalytic grant fund

Global initiative aims to boost pathogen genomics

In a groundbreaking move aimed at fortifying the world’s defences against emerging health threats, the World Health Organization (WHO) has unveiled a $4 million catalytic grant fund to bolster organisations engaged in pathogen genomic surveillance.

This initiative, spearheaded by the International Pathogen Surveillance Network (IPSN), is set to revolutionise global health efforts, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

The catalytic grant fund, supported by an initial injection from major donors such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, and Wellcome, will be a financial backbone for pathogen genomic surveillance projects worldwide.

These projects will act as pilots and establish a robust evidence base for the rapid scalability of pathogen genomic surveillance.

Pathogen genomics involves decoding the genetic makeup of viruses, bacteria, and other disease-causing organisms, providing crucial insights into their infectiousness, lethality, and transmission patterns.

Necessary tools

This information equips scientists and public health officials with the tools to identify, track, and respond to pathogens swiftly, forming a vital component of comprehensive disease surveillance systems.

Sara Hersey, WHO Director for Collaborative Intelligence, stressed the significance of genomic surveillance as a pivotal tool for global health readiness.

She expressed concerns over the existing disparities in access to genomics and the potential loss of capabilities built during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The newly established fund aims to support the sustainable integration of genomic surveillance into national health systems across all income levels, ensuring these critical capabilities persist beyond pandemics.

Alex Pym, Director of Infectious Disease at Wellcome, highlighted the transformative impact of pathogen genomics on protecting lives, especially in resource-scarce regions. The fund is expected to generate essential knowledge on seamlessly transitioning from pandemic tracking to detecting new public health threats, ensuring the lasting integration of genomic surveillance into healthcare systems globally.

Manisha Bhinge, Vice President for Health at The Rockefeller Foundation, expressed pride in standing alongside other donors and partners in supporting the IPSN initiative.

She said the need for accessible pathogen genomics worldwide underscored the importance of preparedness for escalating pandemic and epidemic risks in the era of climate change.

The $4 million grant fund will be available for IPSN members to apply for starting February 2024.

The fund aims to empower lower-resource IPSN members to contribute valuable knowledge to the global genomics surveillance community.

Whether through developing pathogen genomics surveillance tools as global goods or piloting innovative approaches, the fund is poised to foster equity of engagement across IPSN members and catalyse competency scaling in pathogen genomic surveillance in low- and middle-income countries.

Featured image: Pathogen genomics involves decoding the genetic makeup of viruses, bacteria, and other disease-causing organisms. Image: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

    Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247

    Middle East News 247 delivers the latest business and lifestyle news and essential infotainment for, and from the Middle East region, with key focus on the GCC nations: United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman.
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