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Biosecurity and Global Health

The spread of infectious diseases is not only a threat to global health, but also to global security.

In recent years, diseases such as mad cow disease, avian flu, antibiotic-resistance tuberculosis and  antibiotic-resistant malaria have spread around the world. In a global age, the spread of disease becomes very easy. Eradicating infectious diseases and establishing effective ways to combat their spread is becoming important to national security.

In February of this year, the President Obama began the Global Health Security Agenda. Led by the United States, this agenda is a collaboration of 30 countries that is seeking to establish a world that is not threatened by the spread of infectious diseases.

In order to reach the goal, the Agenda  seeks to implement better systems of prevention, detection and response for infectious diseases around the world.

As part of prevention, the Agenda is creating laboratories around the world that are able to identify antimicrobial-resistant organisms, enhance biosecurity and biosafety, encourage the elimination of diseases spreading from animals to humans and improve access to vaccinations.

The Agenda is improving detection through improved biosurveilance and diagnostic tests and is also funding the placement of epidemiologists around the world.

In addition, the Agenda is working to set in place a coordinated response to any threats of infectious disease outbreaks.
Most of the efforts that organizations, such as the World Health Organization, are involved with laboratory practices. By providing safe and secure laboratories, much of the spread of infectious diseases is reduced. In addition, through increased training and education, many of the threats can be reduced.

Although biosecurity is often not a focus of national security, diseases can eradicate the human population as effectively as man-made weapons. By working to improve the resources available as well as improve worldwide practices of prevention, detection and response, much of the biosecurity risk can be eliminated.

– Lily Tyson

Sources: World Health Organization 1, World Health Organization 2
Photo: Science Media Centre