Importance of the issue
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the shortcomings countries have in how they detect, monitor and manage public health threats. The Selva Maya countries, on the one hand, and the One Health sectors, on the other, use different information and data management systems. In the health sectors in Belize, for example, an MIS (Management Information System) developed by a Canadian company is used; Mexico has a national epidemiological surveillance database and Guatemala also has its own health information system. The agricultural and environmental sectors each have their own systems that are not compatible with each other.
An integration of different data management systems to overcome isolated thinking and work better together across sectors is considered desirable by regional actors. Future pandemic and epidemic risks need to be addressed with better access to data, better analytical capabilities, and better tools and insights for decision-making.
Create a multidisciplinary collaborative monitoring environment: The working group will build collaborations for pandemic and epidemic rapid response across surveillance systems and data from all sectors and disciplines. It will enable collaboration between all Selva Maya countries and across all sectors.
Develop a regional system to improve pandemic and epidemic risk detection, assessment and management. It will guide stakeholders on how to define, design and maintain systems that allow for better availability, accessibility and usability of different types of data.
Develop a process for prioritising pandemic and epidemic surveillance and intelligence tools, approaches and applications. This will focus on priorities for academic institutions and funders. Together with public health institutions, it will facilitate the translation of research into practice and promote ongoing evaluation of these priorities.
Importance of the working group for the Selva Maya
As the Selva Maya continually faces threats to its ecosystems, such as illegal hunting and wildlife trade, unplanned human settlements, and extensive cattle ranching, the human population, as well as domestic animals, come into increasingly close contact with wildlife.
This scenario not only causes a significant decrease in wildlife, but also poses a health risk to local populations due to diseases that can be transmitted to humans through the consumption of meat or simple contact with them. The capacity of health systems to monitor and respond to disease outbreaks is weak, also taking into account that data management is done in isolation by different sectors. By having a better exchange of data on potential disease outbreaks, whether from the human or animal health sector, as well as natural resource management data (e.g. burns that increase the risks of respiratory diseases) a more effective response to work or together can be achieved.