Thursday, 07 October 2021 15:22

NEWS: Eric Gilson's intervention at the Science Summit around the 76th United Nations General Assembly (SSUNGA76)

The third SDG aims to ensure the health and well-being of all, by improving reproductive, maternal and child health, by reducing the main communicable, non-communicable, environmental and mental diseases. Health Research is key to attaining the SDGs, and its 13 targets.

Inserm is the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in France. Its’ one goal: to improve the health of all by advancing knowledge of life and disease, innovation in treatment, and public health research. In partnership with UNESCO, in a panel chaired by Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, four top researchers and directors of thematic institutes at Inserm, will present the ways in which their health research contributes to reaching the SDGs, setting up platforms for international scientific collaboration, promoting partnerships and shedding light on ‘4 health pillars’ of concern to societies.

4 Pillars and challenges to Health ResearchIn collaboration with Inserm, UNESCO is organising this panel during the Science Summit at the UNGA 76 on 24 September 2021 from 12pm-1:30 pm, on addressing four key challenges to Health research, namely infectious diseases, climate change and health, psychiatry, and the healthy ageing.

1° In mental health: The OMS clearly states: there is no overall health without mental health, which is explicitly targeted in the SDG3. However, research in mental health is critically under-funded. This can have dramatic consequences at a time when mental health issues have considerably increased with COVID. Yet investment in research in psychiatry would benefit in return to all sectors of society. Pr Marion Leboyer, a leader in the field of psychiatry in France, will present the priorities of the European roadmap for research in psychiatry and the French “PROPSY” project which aims to carry out research and innovation in the service of mental health.

2° In healthy ageing: The recent evolution of human demography and global changes, with in return impacts on health, represent worldwide challenges. Should societies fail to address these challenges, aging may constitute a self-amplifying mechanism of increasing poor health and social inequalities. Fighting the deleterious effects of aging is a major marker of worldwide identity as part of a One Health strategy. With recent tremendous progress in understanding the basic biological mechanisms, the time is right for investment in aging biology research to find solutions at the crossroads of several SDGs. Pr Eric Gilson, who won the Inserm Grand Prize in 2019, will present the programs “BioAgir” and “InterAging”, mobilizing innovative scientific approaches based on the most recent advances of aging biology to prevent and treat age-related diseases with an aim to build an international coalition.

3° In climate change and health: Climate change is likely to affect health through various mechanisms. Those currently identified include extreme temperatures, extreme weather events, flooding, drought, changes in the suitability of climate for disease transmission and in the distribution of infectious diseases vectors, food security... Dr Rémy Slama, director of the Public Health Thematic Institute, will briefly present the available evidence regarding these mechanisms of action of climate change on health. In addition, he will argue for the importance of considering health and equity in designing policies to adapt to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, many countries have committed to reducing such emissions in the next decades, as part of the application of Paris climate agreement. The changes towards a carbon neutral society will imply to deeply modify the sectors of activity with the highest greenhouse gas emission levels, which include transportation, agriculture, energy production, industrial production. All are deeply connected with health (agriculture through diet, energy production through air pollution, transportation through physical activity and pollution…), and changes in these sectors could help improve public health and reach some of the SDGs. For this reason, climate change is at the same time a threat and a potential opportunity for public health.

4° In emerging infectious diseases: After the rapid succession of emerging and re-merging infectious diseases with pandemic potential in the 2000s, and the great amplitude of the Covid-19 crisis, the French government decided to create a new autonomous agency of the Inserm: the ANRS|Emerging infectious diseases. Created on Jan. 1st, 2021 as a merger between the consortium REACTing specialized in preparedness and response, and the French National Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis (ANRS), Dr. Hervé Raoul, Deputy Head of the Agency, will present the new agency which now includes emerging infectious diseases. Its missions are to fund, evaluate and coordinate research. To fulfil its missions the agency is involved in numerous international networks (GLoPID-R, EDCTP, ISIDORE). Furthermore, it is part of an ambitious high-priority research program dedicated to emerging infectious diseases to strengthen epidemic preparedness and management. It comprises 4 objectives: acquisition of basic knowledge, strengthen infrastructures and networks, introduce a preparation and response strategy, boost innovative public health strategies. These international partnerships and programs are a strong and pluridisciplinary framework to structure the development of the new agency.
Outcomes proposed from the meeting 

  • 1. Showcase innovative research taking place in projects, programs and initiatives in these four key challenges of health research
  • 2. Discuss opportunities and proposed strategies to support interdisciplinary approaches
  • 3. Provide networking opportunities to strengthen the scientific community and their impact on world society and establish cooperation for future research and development projects.
  • 4. Contribute to the development of a road map for enhancing policy environments and mechanisms to support interdisciplinary health research translation and bridge the “Know Do” gap in the global south.


Below you can wach Eric Gilson's intervention during this session


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