Public health events with the potential to impact the international civil aviation transport system have been occurring at a rate of approximately one occurrence every two to three years over the last fourteen years (SARS, H1N1/Swine flu and H5N1/Avian influenza, MERS, Ebola, and Zika just to name a few). It is likely that this rate will continue, or possibly increase, as passenger numbers grow and the world becomes more interconnected.

Coordinating the international aviation response to public health risks, such as pandemics, is a key role for ICAO. Using the ICAO global Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA) Programme, international, regional, national and local organizations are brought together to combine efforts and develop a coordinated approach, both during preparedness and crisis periods.

The CAPSCA EUR Project is part of the ICAO CAPSCA global programme, coordinated by the EUR/NAT Office. The CAPSCA EUR network has been successfully established and is continuously expanding (CAPSCA EUR doubled the number of the participating States during the last two years). There is no membership fee or any associated cost to join and be a member of the CAPSCA EUR, which provides regional meetings, training events and upon request, assistance visits to international airports to strengthen public health preparedness plans at global, regional and national levels.

The CAPSCA EUR meetings, jointly organized with the WHO Europe are attended by more than 100 aviation medicine and public health experts, every year. CAPSCA EUR meetings offer the unique opportunity to bring to the attention of the participants the importance of the joint efforts by States and International Organizations involved in the framework of the CAPSCA Programme to improve responses by the aviation sector to world public health events. Whether your interest concerns aviation regulation, public health, aircraft or airport operations, the CAPSCA program will address the issue according to ICAO SARPs (Annexes 6, 9, 11 and 14), ICAO procedures (PANS/ATM) and WHO IHR.

CAPSCA EUR has also been mandated to develop the first aviation medicine ICAO Training Package (ITP) with the support of WHO and an ICAO Regional Training Centre of Excellence (RTCE) using the guidance provided by the Training Development Guide, Competency-based Training Methodology (ICAO Doc 9941). A standardized training package (Computer Based Training) is under final development and it is expected to be delivered at the end of July 2017 for the benefit of all CAPSCA technical advisors performing airport technical assessments.

This article was originally written for the ICAO EUR/NAT Office’s Newsletter (Issue 1) on May 2017. A full list of their newsletters can be found here