In the future, global health security will be an enduring challenge, requiring engagement and thought leadership from both health and security sectors.
The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), launched by President Obama in February 2014, has taken several critical steps in the right direction. The GHSA is a multilateral initiative that now brings together more than 44 partner countries and organizations in an effort to better prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats through targeted global capacity building. The agenda focusses on key priorities such as preventing antimicrobial drug resistance, promoting biosafety and biosecurity systems, enhancing biosurveillance and diagnostics and improving emergency response. The Ebola outbreak brought new energy and resources to the agenda—a stunning $800 million dollars in just a few months. But with that new enthusiasm comes concern about sustainability, efficiency, and practicality of a leadership-driven global effort lasting beyond the Obama administration. On September 9, 2015, ministers from around the world gathered in the Republic of Korea to take stock of the initiative and issue the “Seoul Declaration,” an impressive international pledge to advance health security, affirming the initiative’s momentum and deepening commitments. Most notably, President Park Geun-hye of Korea pledged $100 million in capacity-building assistance to 13 countries over the next five years, while nine countries, including the United States, pledged to permit external assessments, in addition to the five now completed pilot assessments.
The Global Health Security Agenda is a promising, creative effort to focus on the diplomatic, security, and public health requisites to build a safer world, better equipped to cope with both natural and manmade threats. More, however, will be needed to meet the burgeoning demands of a worsening global disorder over the next 5 to 10 years. Looking into the future, the United States will need to think and operate innovatively in its emergency response and preparedness for biological threats, whether at home, abroad, or both, including respective roles for military and health sectors. The United States will need to work with international partners to better support international aid and health providers in broken and fragile societies, where national capacity building is impossible or impractical, where access is challenged, and where multitudes of threats coexist, to prevent the next global health catastrophe. Across all of these efforts that blend health and security considerations will be the need to build solid, enduring bipartisan support for expanded U.S. engagement in health security and to continue using U.S. diplomatic finesse to motivate our partners to do more themselves.
Read the CSIS study here.