The Ebola epidemic in West Africa highlights the urgency for immediate action to establish global capacity to prevent, detect and rapidly respond to biological threats like Ebola. Beginning in his 2011 speech at the United Nations General Assembly, the President has called upon all countries to work together to prevent, detect, and respond to outbreaks before they become epidemics.
The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) was launched on February 13, 2014 to advance a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats and to bring together nations from all over the world to make new, concrete commitments, and to elevate global health security as a national leaders-level priority. The G7 endorsed the GHSA in June 2014; and Finland and Indonesia hosted commitment development meetings to spur action in May and August.
On September 26, President Obama, National Security Advisor Rice, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Monaco, and Secretaries Kerry, Hagel, and Burwell will meet with Ministers and senior officials from 44 countries and leading international organizations to make specific commitments to implement the GHSA and to work toward a commitment to assist West Africa with needed global health security capacity within 3 years.
Commitments to Action
In 2014, countries developed 11 lines of effort in support of the GHSA – known as Action Packages. The Action Packages are designed to outline tangible, measurable steps required to prevent outbreaks, detect threats in real time, and rapidly respond to infectious disease threats —whether naturally occurring, the result of laboratory accidents, or an act of bioterrorism. The Action Packages include specific targets and indicators that can be used as a basis to measure how national, regional, and global capacities are developed and maintained over the long-term. Since February, countries have made over 100 new commitments to implement the 11 Action Packages. For its part, the United States has committed to assist at least 30 countries over five years to achieve the objectives of the GHSA and has placed a priority for our actions on combating antibiotic resistant bacteria, to improve biosafety and biosecurity on a global basis, and preventing bioterrorism. http://www.cdc.gov/globalhealth/security
Next Steps: Governance and Tracking
Going forward, 10 countries have agreed to serve on the GHSA Steering Group, which will be chaired by Finland starting in 2015, with representation from countries around the world, including: Canada, Chile, Finland, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Korea, and the United States. The Steering Group is charged with tracking progress, identifying challenges, and overseeing implementation for achieving the objectives of the GHSA in support of international standards set by the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the World Organization for Animal Health. This includes the implementation of internationally agreed standards for core capacities, such as the World Health Organization International Health Regulations, the World Organization for Animal Health Performance of Veterinary Services Pathway, and other global health security frameworks. To provide accountability and drive progress toward GHSA goals, an independent, objective and transparent assessment process will be needed. Independent evaluation conducted over the five-year course of the GHSA will help highlight gaps and needed course corrections to ensure that the GHSA targets are reached.
All nations share a responsibility to provide health security for our world and for accelerating action toward a world safe and secure from all infectious disease threats.
Participating Nations—Australia, Azerbaijan, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam, and Yemen.