Third Global Health Security Agenda Ministerial Meeting Under Way

The GHSA involves 55 countries and also non-governmental organizations, foundations, and private-sector stakeholders working together to address epidemic threats.

Representatives of the United States are in Rotterdam Oct. 12-14 for the 3rd Ministerial Meeting of the Global Health Security Agenda, which involves 55 countries and also non-governmental organizations, foundations, and private-sector stakeholders working together to address epidemic threats. The GHSA is a global health and national security priority for President Obama that was launched in 2014, before the first cases of Ebola in West Africa was identified, and since then, it "has sparked historic commitments and kindled new momentum to establish global capacity to address devastating outbreaks – whether naturally occurring, deliberate, or accidental," according to a White House announcement about the meeting's importance.

The agenda aims to foster the commitment required to prevent, detect, and respond to biological threats that cross borders, and it has sparked common targets and tools so countries can better share information, measure progress using the same metrics, and work collectively to fill gaps.

"When the GHSA was launched, only approximately 30 percent of all countries were able to report that they had the necessary capacities in place to address public health emergencies. Since the launch of the GHSA in 2014, 17 at-risk countries are receiving $1 billion in United States assistance to address epidemic threats, 31 countries and the Caribbean Community are developing 5-year plans with common targets and milestones to measure outcomes, the G-7 Leaders have made a collective commitment to assist 76 countries and regions, 18 countries – including the United States – will have undergone a World Health Organization Joint External Evaluation by the end of this week, and over 30 additional countries are scheduled to do so," the announcement states. "Additionally, even as we respond with urgency to today's outbreaks, we must be smart enough to think ahead, and bold enough to invest in future solutions. One of the ways we are doing that is by sourcing innovations through USAID's Combatting Zika and Future Threats Grand Challenge. This week, USAID announced a second set of awards to combat future threats. From issuing new technology to deliver critical medical supplies in remote areas to the use of big data to prevent future disease outbreaks, innovators across the globe are responding with solutions to tackle the outbreaks of today and strengthen our position in the fight against the outbreaks of tomorrow."

The White House says the GHSA invests in needed capacity – infrastructure, equipment, and skilled personnel – and enhances coordination and commitment for countries, international organizations, and civil society to work together to achieve specific targets: countering antimicrobial resistance; preventing the emergence and spread of zoonotic disease; advancing a whole-of-government national biosafety and biosecurity system in every country; improving immunization; establishing a national laboratory system; strengthening real-time biosurveillance; advancing timely and accurate disease reporting; establishing a trained global health security workforce; establishing emergency operations centers; linking public health, law and multi-sectoral rapid response; and enhancing medical countermeasures and personnel deployment.

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