The third Partnership Forum of SHARP Joint Action (JA) was held virtually on Monday 22 November 2021 to discuss the progress of the JA. The two-day meeting gathered more than 100 participants from 27 countries from different parts of Europe to exchange experiences and insights.
During the Partnership Forum’s General Meeting, all Work Package leaders reported on their progress, including challenges and successes, as well as next steps for the future. Also, new colleagues to the Joint Action were introduced and welcomed.
In addition to the ten Work Packages (WP), the new EU health security framework under negotiation was presented by the European Commission (EC) representative. European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Europe representatives gave thorough presentations on their plans 2022 and highlighted interesting activities relevant to the JA. Potential synergies were also found and new plans to co-operate made.
Also sharing at the meeting, were representatives from other European health actions HEALTHY GATEWAYS and JA TERROR, both of special interest to SHARP JA, which gave impressive overviews of their activities.
During the Partnership Forum’s Administrative Meeting, the focus was on topical administrative issues and giving guidance on financial matters. University of Thessaly, sub-contractor for WP3, presented the external evaluation activity, including its’ objectives, methods, progress and plans.
COVID-19 pandemic continues to test Europe and SHARP JA
During the General Meeting, in addition to the lively discussions, the participants were also encouraged to share their thoughts through two live online polls, one by WP6 on preparedness and response planning and one by WP1 on the SHARP JA in general.
“The presentations and the results of the polls made it very clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all participating countries and organizations heavily, hindering the progress of Work Packages across the board in one way or another,” says Anna Katz, Project Manager at Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) which coordinates SHARP JA.
When asked in our poll about the effect of the pandemic on SHARP activities, 54% of the participating representatives stated that the pandemic had created remarkable obstacles in their participation in SHARP. Furthermore, 8% stated the pandemic to have led to a full stop in SHARP participation.
“Even though the ongoing pandemic continues to cause difficulties for participating countries, it has revealed the potential for significant learning about how we might be able to be better prepared in the future,” Katz adds.
When asked about expectations for the remaining period of SHARP, many representatives expressed the desire to meet again face-to-face in a safe way. A strong motivation to get things done and to continue collaborating was also clear.
The polls inspired dozens of valuable responses, for example ideas on how to take advantage of the remaining period of SHARP in the best possible way. All the suggestions and thoughts are taken to consideration by the coordinators when planning the future.