Public health intelligence session: "#OutbreakAlert An unknown disease has been reported in…" - : technological advances taking us from local headlines to public health intelligence

24 Nov 2023

The session will be divided in three parts. During the first part, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission will present on the technological innovations and methodological advances they have been working on within the Epidemic Intelligence from Open Sources (EIOS) initiative. In the second part, major Centres for Disease Prevention and Control (CDCs) will present how they have been using different tools and approaches for threat detection in their routines. The CDCs will discuss strengths and limitations of the tools they are using as well as their perspectives on which areas of innovation need to be further developed for improving public health threat detection and overall, the public health intelligence processes they implement.
The session will close with a debate in which ESCAIDE participants will be encouraged to discuss with the presenters the way forward in public health intelligence in terms of tools and cutting-edge technology.

Date and time

Friday, 24 November, 12.35 - 13.35 CET


Vicky Lefevre

Head of Unit | Public Health Functions Unit | European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)

Vicky Lefevre is in charge of Integrated Surveillance, Emergency Preparedness and Response and Public Health Training at ECDC. She joined the Centre in 2018 and has taken up the position of Head of the Public Health Functions Unit in 2020. She was previously Director-General in the Belgian Food Safety Agency, responsible for the Control Policy in the area of Plant Health, Animal Health and Food Safety. She is a veterinarian by training and since the start of her career in 2003 in that same Agency, she has been professionally involved in food safety and public health from different angles. Between 2009 and 2012, she was a research programme officer with the European Commission, DG Research.

Philip Abdelmalik

Head of Unit | Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence | World Health Organization

Philip is an epidemiologist and public health informatician leading the Intelligence Innovation and Integration unit at the World Health Organization’s Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin. The unit works to build and strengthen public health intelligence capacity around the world through cross-disciplinary projects and initiatives. Prior to joining WHO in 2017, Philip worked at the Public Health Agency of Canada (2004-2017) and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health / University of Toronto (1999-2003). Philip’s work has almost always been in the context of emergency preparedness and response activities, including trying to raise two young (mostly) adorable children with his wife from down under. 

Philip holds a PhD in Public Health Informatics awarded jointly by the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter in the UK, as well as a Master of Health Science (MHSc) in Epidemiology and Community Health and an Honours BSc with a specialization in Human Biology, both from the University of Toronto, Canada. 


Luigi Spagnolo

IT Solutions Architect | Joint Research Centre | European Commission

Luigi Spagnolo is an IT solutions architect working at the European Commission, Joint Research Centre in Ispra (Italy), in the Disaster Risk Management unit. He coordinates the design and development activities around the web portal of the Epidemic Intelligence from Open Sources (EIOS) system. He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Politecnico di Milano, Italy.

Gianfranco Spiteri

Principal Expert/Group Leader Epidemic Intelligence | European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)

Dr Gianfranco Spiteri (MD, MSc Public Health) joined ECDC in 2010 and is currently the Group Lead of the Epidemic Intelligence group in the Public Health Functions Unit. He has contributed to the surveillance of several infectious diseases at European level, including sexually transmitted infections, vaccine preventable diseases and emerging diseases (such as Ebola virus disease, Zika and Mpox). In 2020 and 2021 Dr Spiteri coordinated the ECDC surveillance work related to COVID-19 pandemic. He trained as a Medical Doctor in Malta where he is a registered Public Health Specialist. Dr Spiteri is an alumnus of the European Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training.

Mercy Kyeng

Epidemic Intelligence Unit Lead | Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Kyeng Mercy Tetuh is an Epidemiologist with over ten years of experience in strengthening health systems to detect and respond promptly to public health threats. She currently leads the Epidemic intelligence unit of Africa CDC. The unit supports the establishment of early warning systems which involves the digitalizing EBS processes, strengthening EBS workforce, developing EBS standards and procedures, and establishing Epidemic intelligence networks at national, regional and continental levels to foster early detection using a “one health” approach. Prior to joining Africa CDC, Kyeng served as the Executive Director of Value Health Africa where she developed and coordinated projects on early detection and reporting of national priority diseases.

Mercy holds a Masters in Public Health and Epidemiology and currently a final year PHD candidate in Tropical and Infectious disease at the school of health sciences in the University of Nairobi.