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Table 1 New projects and initiatives in epidemic social science

From: Integrating the social sciences in epidemic preparedness and response: A strategic framework to strengthen capacities and improve Global Health security

Key gains have been made in the following areas (documented prior to the COVID-19 pandemic):
• There is a more clearly defined space for social science in the global epidemic response architecture in key organizations, including GOARN, WHO, UNICEF, OFDA, CDCs, IFRC, MSF and others. For example, social science has been prioritized as a key action area in the WHO, IFRC and UNICEF-lead COVID-19 Collective Service to Coordinate Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) for the global COVID-19 response.
• UNICEF and partners has established the Centres d’Analyses des Sciences Sociales (CASS) model, during the 2019 Ebola outbreaks in DRC [12]. Through the CASS mechanism, UNICEF is supporting Ministries of Health in taking leadership on using applied social science for real-time public health responses. See:
• Major investments from the European Commission have been made to build social science capacity and networks, resulting in the Horizon 2020 Sonar-Global network [13]. See:
• Canada’s Institute of Health Research (CIHR) has launched a global governance of infectious disease network initiative with a core focus on social science.
• WHO tested its first social science for epidemics “boot camp” (SocialNet) in 2017 and a second version was conducted in Eastern Europe in 2018.
• New clinical research networks (ALERRT (, Pandora-ID-Net (, PREPARE ( have included social science components.
• The Social Science and Humanitarian Action Platform (SSHAP) has developed and mobilized rapid synthesized knowledge briefs. See:
• A GOARN Social Science Research network has been established to coordinate research efforts during specific epidemic outbreaks. WHO has since established a COVID-19 Social Science Working Group, which has been integrating social science into its R&D Blueprint processes. See:
• WHO Joint External Evaluations have expanded the role of risk communication and community engagement assessments.
• Social scientists are starting to be integrated into rapid support teams, most notably in the UK-Public Health Rapid Support Team (UK-PHRST) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
• Epidemiological Field Training Programs have begun including basic introduction to social science, and there is a growing level of interest to mainstream these trainings through the Africa CDC.