Well done on the “White Helmets”. Now it is time for international education
The establishment of teams and international procedures to tackle pandemics is definitely good news. The European Medical Corps, conceived and developed in close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), is the new European tool to respond to emergencies inside and outside the EU through a faster mobilization of teams and equipment. This is because in our very recent past, the Ebola outbreak highlighted a shortage of adequately trained medical staff to be quickly deployed in case of health emergencies. This led Germany and France to propose a “White Helmets” initiative in late 2014, which laid the foundation for the European Medical Corps: emergency medical and public health teams, mobile biosafety laboratories, medical evacuation capacities, medical assessment and coordination experts and logistical support teams. This is the right moment, since the rapid global diffusion of another epidemic is increasing general concern: the Zika virus one. As a matter of fact, the European Medical Corps will also be integral part of the Zika Task Force wanted by the WHO: a team of experts set up by the Global Virus Network made up of the world’s most renown virologists from 35 centers of excellence of 26 countries. Giuseppe Ippolito, Scientific Director of the Institute for Infectious Diseases Lazzaro Spallanzani, already active member of the GVN and frontline man in the fight against Ebola, was called to represent the Italian expertise in the Task Force. Marta Branca, Special Commissioner of Inmi Spallanzani, while wishing the team “Good luck”, commented: “I am proud that our Institute stands as a worldwide resource against infectious diseases once again”. At this moment, to better deal with pandemics, a network of international excellence education should also be established, as repeatedly advocated by the Spallanzani management.