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HPA-led consortium successful in new €6m EU tender bid

The ‘Case studies, Exercises, LEarning, Surveys and Training across Europe (CELESTE)’ consortium led by the Health Protection Agency has been awarded the Multiple Framework Contract for ‘Scripting, planning, conduction and evaluation of exercises, training and assessment implementing the draft decision on cross-border threats to health’.

The contract, which is signed between the Health Protection Agency and the European Executive Agency for Health and Consumers (acting under the mandate given by the European Commission (Directorate - General for Health and Consumers, DG SANCO), is for three years, with one possible extension for one more year, up to the maximum duration of four years and is worth a maximum of six million Euros for the whole duration (including the possible extension).

In 2008 Exercise Aeolus, designed and delivered by the HPA, examined the capability of departments and institutions at Member State and Commission level to work together and share information during a fast-evolving health threat which cut across departmental responsibilities. This exercise was one of several to address cross-sectoral communication and collaboration at national and EU level.

Dr Paul Cosford, Acting Chief Executive of the Health Protection Agency said: “I am delighted that the consortium that we are leading has been successful in the bidding process. The agency has built up a wealth of expertise in the six years since we began delivering exercises, training, workshops and evaluations for DG SANCO, and we will now build on this knowledge and that of our consortium partners to meet the demands of this work programme.’

Notes to editors

Members of the CELESTE Consortium

  1. The Health Protection Agency is an independent organisation, set up on 1 April 2003, dedicated to protecting people’s health in the United Kingdom by providing impartial advice and authoritative information on health protection issues to the public, to professionals and to government. Public health and scientific expertise, research, and emergency planning are combined within one organisation, which works at international, national, regional and local levels and links effectively with many other organisations around the world. In April 2013 the Health Protection Agency will become part of a new organisation called Public Health England, an executive agency of the Department of Health and the contract will transfer to the new agency.

    The HPA has a long term relationship with the European Commission, dating back to 2005 when it successfully bid for the delivery of two exercises (Exercises New Watchman and Common Ground) in 2005/6 for the DG SANCO of the European Commission. The relationship was consolidated with the awarding of the framework contract (SANCO/C3-2007-01) for the scripting, planning, conduct and evaluation of exercises related to Public Health to a consortium led by the HPA. The framework contract delivered five case studies, ten table top exercises, three command post exercises and nine training events which included two exchanges of experts' programmes over a four year period. The diverse nature of the exercises and the training events demonstrated the capacity, capability and flexibility of the HPA and its subcontractors to deliver, as per the requirements of the EC, against a sometimes fast moving world situation. This was particularly pertinent during and after the pandemic Influenza H1N1 (2009) where a planned exercise was cancelled and replaced by evaluations of the real event. The broad range of subject matter considered during exercises and training also provided the HPA with familiarity and experience of the many and various e-tools available to EC and Member States to manage emergency situations.
  2. Instituto Superiore di Sanita (ISS) has a long established relationship, working with the Commission and ECDC on a variety of projects to support and inform public health activities in the EU and beyond. Of particular note is the role of ISS in coordinating the EpiSouth project where nine Member States and 18 non-EU countries were engaged in the project, significantly strengthening cross border cooperation and communication in the field of public health. This project ended in 2010 but a further project, the EpiSouth Plus project, continues to build on the success of the previous programme broadening out and strengthening the initial aim of contributing to the control of public health threats but also considering other bio-security risks in the Mediterranean region and South-East Europe.
  3. Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI) is a well established organisation in Sweden operating under the authority of the Ministry of Defence. FOI has advanced expertise in CBRNE activities and a long established track record through FP6 and, latterly, FP7 projects in working on large European projects. Projects include the CIE toolkit, ORCHIDS, INTEGRISK, MASH and PRACTICE, all in collaboration with members of ERD, HPA, demonstrating a close working relationship over a period of time.
  4. The European CBRNE Center, Umea University is the fourth partner in the CELESTE consortium. It is itself a consortium which integrates basic laboratory science with applied CBRNE research and advanced CBRNE education programs and in-the-field training for first responders. Thus far, the center has led the DG SANCO funded project MASH on mass-casualty management following release of chemical and radiological substances; an FP7 project CBRNE map that created a road map for future EU funded CBRNE research; an EU REGIO funded project NSS on joint training for first responder education programmes; and is currently leading two projects, FP7 SLAM project on standardisation of laboratory analytical methods, and FP7 Integrated project (IP) PRACTICE, mentioned above, that is aiming to create a CBRN Toolbox for first responder preparedness and societal resilience. The European CBRNE Center is therefore well aware of the pan-Europe context in which this framework contract is set and the challenges ahead.

For more information please contact Liz Morgan-Lewis on +44 (0)1980 612504 or email liz.morgan-lewis@hpa.org.uk. Out of hours she can be contacted on +44 (0) 7834 311392.

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