The current crisis painfully demonstrates how vulnerable our society has become to disasters. In the foreseeable future, our society can expect many more and unforeseen virus outbreaks and extreme events. But how do we protect society from the next pandemic or disaster? Which of the lessons learnt could be used to develop prevention and intervention measures and how could research contribute to preparedness?
To prepare society for future pandemics and disasters, Erasmus MC, Delft University of Technology and Erasmus University Rotterdam have joined forces in the Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Center. An initiative to reduce vulnerabilities and risks, and build resilience through effective disaster prevention, preparedness, and recovery measures. Convergence of the technical, medical and social sciences is essential to develop the next generation of approaches to disasters and pandemics.
The threats we must prepare for are not limited to pandemics. Densely populated areas and especially urban deltas are at additional risk of disruptive events such as a rise in sea levels and extreme weather events. Climate change will lead to an increase in extreme weather in the next century and will also impact infectious disease risks. For example, climate change has already introduced mosquitoes into the Netherlands that can transmit infectious diseases.
To prepare for future pandemics and disasters, we need to build, test, and implement innovative models that combine knowledge and field data from a variety of sources and scientific disciplines. With these, we can characterise and predict ecosystem resilience and vulnerability to outbreaks. For that reason, the PDPC has two focus area’s: pandemic preparedness and disaster preparedness.
We are on a mission to:
- Conduct top-level research on pandemics and disasters.
- Establish science-based methods, techniques, and innovation paths relevant to preparing for pandemics and disasters.
- Train the next generation of scientists and experts in fundamental and translational research on pandemics and disaster preparedness.
- Develop prevention and intervention measures and translate them into improved pandemic and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.
- Co-create, collect, and share knowledge on disasters and pandemics.
The PDPC will work with a wide range of partners from the knowledge and training sector, the public sector, the private sector, international organisations and NGOs. The PDPC will also focus on international cooperation with similar densely populated urban regions and deltas that are also threatened by pandemics and other disasters. The PDPC will connect with the EU Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), which will provide the opportunity for a UN logistical campus for pandemic and disaster preparedness in Rotterdam, resulting in a boost for employment and services.