Emerging health threats such as the COVID-19 pandemic, create extensive health, economic and social problems. A key challenge for health experts and policymakers is deciding how to balance and reduce the risk of these threats.
Pioneering research led by Professors Gilberto Montibeller and L. Alberto Franco, from the Management Science and Operations academic group at the Loughborough University School of Business and Economics, developed an advanced framework to support the prioritisation of emerging health threats.
Their research was awarded with the prestigious EURO Excellence in Practice Award, conferred by the Association of European Operational Research Societies, during the 31st EURO Conference on Operational Research held in Athens this year.
Helping DEFRA to enhance policy and regulations
The applied research project, Improving Global Risk Management of Emerging Heath Threats with Facilitated Decision Analysis, has been used to enhance the quality of health experts’ policy recommendations at the UK Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), improving health risk control regulations.
Dr Helen Roberts, Science and Risk Advisor for DEFRA, said that the decision support tool developed in this research project “has been an important tool for supporting the Veterinary Risk Group in assessing a large number of animal health threats since 2014, in producing Covid response guidance, and in drawing national and supra-national legislation."
New international standards at the World Health Organisation (WHO)
The research has also informed the development of new international standards for the Food Standards Joint Programme of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Professor Jeffery Farber, Chair of the WHO Low Moisture Foods Expert Committee and Director of the Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety said, "These benefits of an evidence-based and priority-led decision process would not [otherwise] have been achieved. The value of this project was therefore significant for the international management of risks associated with low-moisture food categories.”
Advances in Decision Sciences
- The contributions to Management Science arising from the ongoing research programme led by Professors Montibeller and Franco are built upon three themes, which focus on improving decision capability for the prioritisation of emerging health threats: Tool development encompassed the creation of rigorous decision analytic models to support decision making in the prioritisation of emerging health threats, as well as the design of risk management support tools that enable policy makers to use them.
- Process enhancement focused on the redesign of decision processes to address the challenges posed by the prioritisation of emergent health threats to enable the embedding of risk management support tools within organisational routines.
- Competence building supported the development of health experts’ decision and risk analysis skills, together with the effective deployment of value-focused decision making and sound health risk management practices.
You can find out more about the research completed by Professors Montibeller and Franco – including their video on managing bio-diversity threats - as well as the impact this has had on a global scale by reading our research spotlight.
Find out more about this award-winning research.