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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

Photo: Flickr

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The U.S. along with 30 countries has announced a commitment to achieving the targets of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). Targets include responding to infectious disease threats and preventing epidemics.

The GHSA “seek[s] to accelerate progress toward a world that is safe and secure from infectious disease threats and to promote global health security as an international security priority,” GlobalHealth.gov said.

The Agenda was created in response to epidemic threats, such as ebola and seeks to promote global health and protect citizens around the world from life-threatening diseases.

The 30 countries that the U.S. has partnered with are: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Laos, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Pakistan, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Ukraine, and Vietnam, as well as the Caribbean Community.

The commitment includes a five-year country roadmap that will detail practical plans for the GHSA.

“These roadmaps are intended to enable a better understanding across sectors and assistance providers of the specific milestones, next steps, and gaps toward achieving capacity needed to prevent, detect, and respond to biological threats,” the White House said in a press release.

The countries involved seek to collaborate on a global issue that impacts millions of people in developing areas. Infrastructure, equipment and skilled personnel are some of the resources that the GHSA partnership plans to provide.

During this year’s G-7 Summit in Germany, G-7 leaders committed to collectively assisting at least 60 countries, including the countries of West Africa, over the next five years. The G-7 Health Ministers agreed to announce these countries by the end of this year according to the White House.

This collaboration provides a bright spot for the future. Health security is a huge issue today, as infectious diseases kill over 17 million people a year. At least 30 new diseases have emerged in the last 20 years, and they all require attention and research in order for cures to be discovered according to the World Health Organization.

Next year’s GHSA event will be hosted by the Netherlands and will highlight progress and continue to build momentum on these issues.

Ashley Tressel

Sources: White House, WHO, Global Health
Photo: Flickr

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The U.S. developed the Global Health Security Agenda to prevent, detect and respond to disease threats. The goal is to stop outbreaks from ever becoming epidemics. Today’s biological threats include emergence of new microbes, spread through globalization, drug resistance diseases, accidental release and illicit usage of disease. The latest challenges with Ebola prompted the U.S. to increase funding and aid for the Global Health Security Agenda.

One billion dollars have been donated to expand resources to allow countries to deal with biological threats on their own. Investment is desperately needed in the areas of infrastructure, equipment and skilled personnel. The radar includes 17 countries, bringing the total amount of countries to receive aid to at least 60. Countries in Asia and the Middle East to receive the money include Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Vietnam.

Africa will be the main source of attention, with about half of the money being invested there. The money will contribute to improving or creating systems that prevent and mitigate outbreaks–whether they be intentional or natural–that report outbreaks, and that can respond to outbreaks. To accomplish these goals, the U.S. works directly with partner countries’ governments to create a five year plan.

Another part of the Security Agenda is to build African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The African Union stands behind these projects to help promote disease science and research in Africa. There will also be country specific Public Health Initiatives to boost specific countries health agendas and departments.

The one billion dollar investment will aid reaching the health targets set by the World Health Organization and the UN. The Security Agenda works within the global health frameworks to ensure that there is understanding across sectors and countries.

Katherine Hewitt

Sources: GlobalHealth.gov, The White House 1, The White House 2
Photo: GEN

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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

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The security and prevention against the chronic eruption of disease outbreak are tasks that no one country should face alone. On Feb. 14, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius took a respite from the searing spotlight of Obamacare to meet with international collaborators of a new Obama Administration-backed global health initiative.

The Global Health Security Agenda is a comprehensive strategy to prevent and reduce the likelihood of infectious outbreaks, to detect early threats, and to rapidly respond to biological danger with multi-sectoral and international co-ops.

The Obama Administration partnered with organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), International Health Regulations 2005 (IHR), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and existing collaborations under the G8, G20, Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the WHO have cited several current rampant outbreaks, including the H7N9 avian flu virus. H7N9 is reported to have a staggering potential to trigger a pandemic, given its easy transmission through infected poultry and its ever-mutating strains. MERS-CoV, a new novel strain of coronavirus, the same virus that caused the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak of 2003, emerged in the Middle East and is also under international surveillance.

There remain dozens of countries around the world, however, lacking the support and facilities to combat against drug resistance and preventative therapies. Basic immunization is still not a universally accessible necessity.

The U.S. committed to working with 30 partner countries including Vietnam and Uganda, the latter of which continues to writhe under malaria and hepatitis B endemics.

President Obama has requested an allocation of $45 million in the FY 2015 Budget for the Global Health Security Agenda. If passed, the funds will be used to expand laboratories around the globe for the research of national biosecurity systems.  Global health and the fight and prevention against infectious diseases around the world is a fight that the United States can and will lead in the upcoming decade.

– Malika Gumpangkum

Sources: Whitehouse.gov, Global Health, Washington Post, Global Health, WHO, Global Health, Center for Disease Control
Photo: HNGN