Research Infrastructure for Environmental Public Health in South Europe – ReSHAPE

Research Infrastructure for Environmental Public Health in South Europe (Health in All Policies and Environment)  ReSHAPE

(Submitted under Horizon 2020 IFRAIA-02-2017 call)

Environmental and Public Health (EPH) are becoming increasingly complex. Reducing the burden of diseases globally requires a better understanding of how these diseases are impacted by our environment, what are the appropriate tools to measure these and the impact of preventive environmental and public health strategies. Europe, and in particular its southern part, is a geopolitical unique region that shares similar climatic and environmental conditions, which also influence other dimensions such as climate change, pollution, infectious diseases, migration movements, and opportunities (diet, culture, history). Historical and new societal, economic and political transitions have contributed to the shaping of the region and have determined regional environmental, health and socioeconomic challenges.

The WHO Health 2020 European Health Policy Framework recognizes environmental factors as important determinants of health and socioeconomic equity. It also recognizes the need for synergy on policy and political decisions on health and other societal and economic sectors, also reflected in policy-level instruments such as the Health in All Policies (HiAP) approach.

The overall objective of ReSHAPE is to integrate research infrastructures (RIs) for EHP activity that can provide coordinatedharmonised and sustained services for the research community of the South of Europe and beyond, which can then better assist in providing coherent evidence and tools for decision making and EPH policy at national and regional level. This will be achieved through a strong science-base by integrating research excellence, institutions and services in the region, and other EU and international institutions, and to provide an Open Science compliant, federated access enabled, and cloud computing based, platform for multidisciplinary research, training, and service in EPH for research communities in the South and wider European region.

An important objective to pursue by  ReSHAPE  is to  foster the development of an effective European network dealing with Environmental Public health Tracking (EPHT). As a matter of fact many members of INPHET are actively involved in such an important project proposal

Through ReSHAPE we aim to improve and strengthen the capacity in EPH research by providing an infrastructure of excellence to research communities, and contribute to improving the socio-economic prospect of the region. ReSHAPE focuses initially on South of Europe, but the proposed solutions and the tools to support its activities will have European-wide impacts. This integrated network of RIs will be in support of the requirements of the policy-level instruments proposed by HiAP and WHO Health 2020 frameworks. On this basis, the long term goal of the proposed activity of ReSHAPE is to establish an enduring regional infrastructure and overarching institution for EPH that will provide service for researchers, public health and other sector authorities to achieve sustained wellbeing and healthier societies, and contributing this way to improving and strengthening the socio-economic profile and reducing health inequalities of the Southern European region.

This activity brings a novel dimension in the research community of Europe. The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) Roadmap 2016[1] highlights the lack of integrated RI in the South of Europe, in particular in countries of the Western Balkans, as well as in those countries where there is already lack of research resources and integration, which contribute further to the already existing regional socio-economic disadvantages. This situation, in addition can contribute to loss of trained expertise from countries with sparse resources to countries where excellent science is already established. ESFRI Roadmap 2016 highlights widening of the participation in RI as a key aspect, and ReSHAPE has it as one of its priorities. At present, there are no activities in the ESFRI Roadmap 2016 similar to the one proposed in ReSHAPE.

The ReSHAPE consortium is made of 27 partners from 17 countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Italy, Kosovo, Macedonia, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, and the UK). Out of them, 8 are public authorities, 5 are technological partners, and 18 are research institutions and academia (the sum is bigger than 27 because some partners play more than one role). This initiative has already gained national and international level support and interest, from governing and funding bodies from participating countries, the WHO and US CDC.

Administrative Coordinator:
Dr Roberto Barbera (University of Catania, Italy)

Scientific Lead and Technical Coordinator:
Dr Ariana Zeka (Brunel University, UK)