“The recent outbreak of the E. coli EHEC bacteria in Europe underlines how lack of anticipation on the side of government and society can be dangerous and costly” – this was part of a set of recommendations for pandemic preparedness brought together through a scenario planning approach by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) Public Health Network.
The Network organised a public event on 13 June in Bangkok at the Plaza Athénée Hotel to introduce a set of three scenarios under the name of ASEF-ASAP (Accurate Pandemics, Active Preparedness) Scenarios that cover a range of possibilities to prepare for future pandemics and public health emergencies in Asia and Europe.
Visitors experienced the scenarios through short animated films and more detailed information was shared through a digital book. ASEF facilitators explained the story behind each scenario – how each scenario was developed and how every scenario is vulnerable to possible pandemic threats. Dr Siriwat Tiptaradol, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Health of Thailand, was the guest of honour for the occasion.
Highlighting the need for scenario planning in pandemic preparedness, ASEF Director for Intellectual Exchange, Ms Sol Iglesias noted: “Public-private partnership is a key to pandemic preparedness, with civil society actively involved… After the relatively mild H1N1, a lot of trust needs to be re-built so that we don’t get lulled into a false sense of security. We need to be reasonably vigilant still.”
This sharing of the ASEF-ASAP scenarios was followed by a panel discussion and an interactive question and answer session. This was attended by representatives from the Thai ministries, foreign embassies based in Bangkok, Thai academia, chambers of commerce, UN agencies and other international non-profit organisations and the media.