APS Advocates for Behavioral Science in New EU Health Emergency Initiative

In recent letter, APS commends the European Union on a new health preparedness initiative and encourages the integration of the behavioral and social sciences, including psychological science, as the initiative’s work develops. 

On September 16, 2021, the European Commission (EC)—the executive branch of the EU—adopted an initiative known as HERA, the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority. As its name suggests, HERA aims to prevent, prepare for, detect, and respond to health emergencies. According to the EU, HERA arises from a perceived need for a coordinated effort across the EU to better respond to health emergencies, evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

In a September 27 letter to EC President Ursula von der Leyen, APS praises the creation of HERA and recommends the inclusion of psychological and other behavioral scientists in future efforts to ensure that human behavior and behavioral health interventions are central to any future health emergency.   

In the letter, APS highlights areas that psychological scientists can contribute to HERA efforts, including to “increase confidence in safe vaccines and increase vaccine uptake, promote health-protective behaviors such as social distancing, urge mask-wearing, and help EU citizens navigate misinformation surrounding future vaccines and other health protective behaviors.”  

Psychological scientists around the world—including in Denmark, Canada, the UK, and other countries—have been working with their governments to ensure that effective responses to COVID-19 are in place. Efforts such as HERA mirror these steps toward ensuring preparedness for the next health emergency.  

APS’s letter to the European Commission on the creation of HERA can be found here.  

APS has encouraged health agencies to incorporate psychological scientists into their responses to COVID-19 and preparations for future health emergencies. To see another example, learn about a message that APS and other groups sent to the White House and NIH on a similar issue here.  

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