global health security agendaThe Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) is a partnership of nations, international organizations and NGOs that are seeking to keep the world safe from infectious diseases and maintain health security as a main global priority. The program launched in 2014 as a five-year initiative to increase country-level health security to stop disease outbreaks at their source.

In October 2017, GHSA was extended until 2024. This extension will allow the global health community to enhance data sharing, preparedness planning, epidemiological and laboratory surveillance, risk assessment and response to infectious diseases and other health issues and threats.

The Global Health Security Agenda has created a set of eleven targets and an assessment tool, which is currently being carried out in five countries: Georgia, Peru, Portugal, Uganda and the United Kingdom. In the organization’s assessment of Georgia, it noted that zoonotic diseases are a problem, as 60 percent of human pathogens are zoonotic. Much of the diseases seen in humans within the country are of animal origin, spreading, for example, through contact with veterinarians. These assessment reports contain information about immunization, biosafety and biosecurity and real-time surveillance among other things.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that global health security strengthens United States security. The CDC works in association with GHSA to combat disease worldwide. The organization currently has partnerships with 31 countries, including the Caribbean, that are working to meet the goals of GHSA. The CDC has established Global Disease Detection Centers around the world, providing assistance to over 2,000 requests for disease outbreaks and creating more than 380 diagnostic tests in laboratories of 59 countries.

GHSA has had success stories in many countries, including Tanzania. The nation’s government is determined to play a role in ensuring GHSA’s success, both nationally and internationally. Tanzania joined the program back in August 2015, and in February 2016, it became the first country to use the Joint External Evaluation to assess its 19 capacities to prevent, detect and respond to public health issues.

In a formal event, Tanzania also launched the National Action Plan for Health Security. Held on September 8, 2017, the event was well attended, including guests such as USAID, the World Bank and the World Health Organization.

The fight to keep the world safe from disease may still be a long road, but with programs like the Global Health Security Agenda, the future seems promising.

– Blake Chambers

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