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15 March 2022
CARE, - Healthcare

Established at the end of 2021, the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) has set up to improve EU coordinated response on the prevention, detection and rapid response to cross-border health crises. Its work will be crucial to ensure the prevention and care of allergy, asthma and COPD in future health crisis via the development and distribution of appropriate medical measures.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been a crucial trigger for realising the need for better preparedness to address health emergencies, the scope of HERA includes also man-made threats such as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats.

In early 2022, HERA published its first Work Plan, which lays out its annual priorities  with a total budget of 1,3 bn EUR is foreseen tapped from three main sources: the official EU health programme (EU4Health), the Horizon Europe programme, and the Union Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM).

Throughout 2022, HERA plans to focus specifically on preparedness activities, while establishing a close collaboration with external stakeholders such as civil society, academia, and industry at every step of the way.

HERA 2022 work priorities

According to the Work Plan, HERA will revolve around six main tasks. EFA has identified those expected to have a greatest impact on EFA and its patient community:

  • Task 1: Threat assessment and intelligence, including on biological and other health threats. HERA will reinforce threat detection, among others, by joint work with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA); threat prioritisation, based on the selection of major threats, as well as relevant medical countermeasures (medical responses to the threat, such as mask production in case of a respiratory infection); and threat awareness via dialogue with patients, consumers and healthcare workers.
  • Task 2: Promotion of advanced research and development (R&D) of medical countermeasures and related technologies, by funding projects via Horizon Europe, who will support work on next generation immunotherapies for diseases with unmet medical needs; new methods for using real-world data in decision-making; and also projects within the Innovative Health Initiative (IHI).
  • Task 3: Addressing market challenges, by developing structures and capacities to identify bottlenecks and market failures that could limit production of medical means during crises.
  • Task 4: Provision of medical countermeasures, by working closely with the Union Civil Protection Mechanism which provides recommendations regarding medical and CBRN countermeasures, while identifying potential challenges in their deployment.
  • Task 5: Strengthening knowledge and skills, through the organisation of training programmes related to all aspects of access to medical countermeasures.
  • Task 6: Building on the international dimension, via close collaboration with global partners to address supply and capacity challenges.

During the European Commission’ consultative process, EFA expressed its hope for a strong and well-equipped HERA which centralises efforts to address cross-border health emergencies. We hoped for an authority to coordinate for quick and accurate responses in times of health emergencies without borders.

We fully agree with the prioritisation of CBRN threats as they are urgent, cross-border, multi-hazardous and directly impacting health. However, in the implementation of its Work Plan, we also wish to see HERA going specific on climate change impacts on health that can become an emergency, such as wildfires and heatwaves, and active volcanos.

Read the EFA response to the HERA consultation and the EFA analysis after the formal establishment of the authority.