FERG Strategic planning meeting and kick-off event of the pilot country studies in Durres, Albania, 7-10 November 2011
The FERG Core Group Members and FERG Task Force Chairs met from 7 to 10 November 2011 in Durres, Albania to attend the FERG strategic planning meeting and the kick-off event of the FERG pilot country studies.
In view of the increased complexity of the WHO Initiative to Estimate the Global Burden of Foodborne Diseases as well as the changed environment in which the Initiative is operating, the WHO Secretariat convened a meeting with the objectives of:
- updating the Initiative’s strategic framework, its milestones and timelines;
- redefining the technical scope of the Initiative, including the selection of priority areas for foodborne disease burden esitmation;
- identifying key activities and resource needs for implementation; and
- updating FERG processes, roles and responsibilities.
Priority has been given to the commissioning of new work and ensuring technical progress in order to meet the newly revised deadline of the Initiative. In order to ensure adequate funding, face-to-face meetings will be cut down to a minimum while regular technical reviews and appraisals are expected to take place via teleconferences and virtual online meetings. The next full FERG meeting (FERG 5) will therefore be scheduled for early 2013.
- Timeline: The work of the Initiative should be finsihed by the end of 2013 (with the aim to officially present the FERG’s results at an event in early 2014).
- Scope of technical work: The thematic task force chairs have in consultation with their task forces established a shortened list of pathogens and hazards for which they intend to deliver incidence and mortality estimates by the end of 2012.
- Methodological decisions: A range of important technical and methodological issues linked to the estimation of foodborne disease burden were discussed at the meeting in Albania and agreed upon in order to ensure accuracy, utility and compatibility with other existing health metric indicatives.
- New FERG Computational Task Force: Continuing in this vein, a new computational task force to work on the mathematical modelling to calculate DALYs will be established. The task force is currently set to be operational by the end of February 2012.
- Source attribution expert elicitation: An expert elicitation will be conducted in 2012 to determine what proportion of the burden of each hazard is foodborne, and which are the major foods associated with transmission. A list of hazards that will be included in the expert elicitation has been established.
The 'kick-off' meeting of the FERG pilot country studies marked a major milestone for the work of the Initiative to foster national studies of the burden of foodborne disease. For the first time, representatives of the FERG pilot countries met to present on the implementation of a national foodborne disease burden study. They also learnt about study tools that FERG has developed, as well as the future technical support that will be provided by the FERG.
The pilot countries during the kick-off meeting:
- Drafted pilot country study work plans outlining the way forward;
- Provided recommendations and input to align FERG procedures and tools for national foodborne disease burden estimation and food safety policy situation analyses specific to country requirements; and
- Delivered feedback and agreed on processes to communicate between participating countries, and between the countries and FERG.
The next steps
The WHO Secretariat with the support of the FERG is in the process of updating its strategic framework and other relevant strategic documents based on the outcomes of this meeting. More information on FERG task force progress and the pilot country studies following the two FERG meetings in Albania will be made available on the FERG webpage shortly.