A new tool for assessing progress toward the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) goals has now been piloted in five countries, the CDC reports. International health organizations in Georgia, Peru, Portugal, Uganda and the UK have all submitted evaluations of the assessment.
The Global Health Security Agenda was launched in 2014 as a way to bring focus to the need for a global health strategy that would respond quickly and effectively to potential epidemics — a need that was highlighted later that year by an outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.
“GHSA is about strengthening health systems for every country,” said U.S. Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins. “That means GHSA will help to prevent, detect and rapidly respond to infectious diseases like Ebola.”
The assessment is designed to measure baselines and strategies for potential improvement in regards to 11 action packages developed by GHSA countries in 2014.
Following the “Prevent-Detect-Respond” framework, these action packages include, among others, preventing microbial resistance, strengthening biosecurity, delivering immunizations, facilitating surveillance and reporting, fostering global communication and coordinating emergency response deployment and operations.
Each pilot country was scored on their capacity to take these actions based on indicators such as having biosecurity training programs, proper communication practices, national vaccine coverage, trained epidemiologists and resources to implement emergency responses. The teams then evaluated the assessment itself to determine if it was constructive and scalable.
Evaluators in Portugal, which is considered to have a strong health security strategy, noted several important improvements the assessment needs to undergo before it is launched on a broader scale.
They say that current indicators do not reflect global objectives as closely as they could. They recommended pulling indicators from existing global health initiatives (such as the Global Vaccine Action Plan) in order to maintain a focus.
Evaluators also noted that their team was given a limited amount of time to complete their assessment. This prevented them from conducting random samples from various regions across the country, in order to verify the information they received from the central health ministry. They also noted a lack of efficiency in the process stemming from the fact that the country being evaluated was not given the assessment ahead of time. The evaluators therefore suggest giving assessment missions a three-month lead time in order to properly prepare.
Overall, the teams think the tool is a promising step in assessing progress toward the Global Health Security Agenda. With further development, they are confident it can be launched in all partner countries.
– Ron Minard