GLOBAL HEALTH SECURITY: INVESTING GLOBALLY MATTERS LOCALLY

This post was written by Anupama Varma, Communications Associate at Global Health Council.

The panel of speakers at the event.

A disease outbreak anywhere is a risk everywhere.” – Dr. Tom Frieden, former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In today’s world, when diseases can reach American borders in less than twelve hours, it is more imperative than ever that the global health community open space for dialogue on global health security. The World Bank estimates that the United States could have a loss of $80 billion dollars each year due to a global health security risk. Hence, the country must be prepared. The latest initiative, the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), aims to improve transparency through Joint External Evaluations (JEE) and develop lasting multilateral relationships among WHO member nations in order to ensure a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats.

Global health security starts at home – making sure the United States has the tools to prevent, detect, and respond to health threats. It is also critical that efforts address building systems and capacity in low- and middle-income countries with weak health infrastructures that prevent them from adequately responding to disease outbreaks. As Amie Batson, Chief Strategy Officer and Vice President of Strategy and Learning at PATH, reminds us, “We are only as strong as the weakest country in the system.”

Dr. David Smith, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, delivers keynote speech.

In July, Global Health Council (GHC) partnered with one of its organizational members, Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to host “Global Health Security: Investing Globally Matters Locally,” on Capitol Hill focused on current and future global health security efforts. Friends of the Global Fight also released a new brief highlighting how U.S. investments in bilateral health programs fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, in coordination with strategic investments in The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (The Global Fund), save millions of lives and protect the U.S. from future disease threats. Dr. David Smith, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, delivered the keynote speech, and a panel of speakers from PATH, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and CDC discussed how investments in global health prevent epidemics at their sources and reduce the likelihood that infectious diseases will undermine public health in the United States.

The key takeaways from the panel discussion include:

1.) Technical expertise for global health security exists, but designated leadership is required.

2.) Epidemic preparedness is critical in order to ensure economic, social, and political security, as well as the stability of all nations, including the U.S.  As Garrett Grigsby, Director of the Office of Global Affairs at HHS, reiterated, “We can pay now, or we can pay a lot more later.”

3.) According to Dr. Nancy Knight, Director of the Division of Global Health Protection at CDC, “The key to successful global health security efforts lies in community-based response.”

4.) The focus of global health security is on four core areas: improving surveillance systems, strengthening laboratory capacity and capability, developing a robust global health workforce, and building a strong emergency operations and response system.

5.) The GHSA has become a model for governments to emphasize ownership of their borders.

6.) It is critical to work not only with governments and international organizations, but also with the private sector to increase the impact of global health security efforts.

7.) According to Dr. Audrey Jackson, Senior Fellow at CSIS’s Global Health Policy Center, tuberculosis (TB) remains a primary health threat to the U.S., and multilateral relationships such as The Global Fund are critical to fight TB.

Ultimately, U.S. leadership is key to the global health security vision and mission, and could help save millions of American lives both here and abroad.

Download the Friends of the Global Fight brief.
View Dr. David Smith’s keynote speech.
Advocate for global health security using facts and figures and success stories from GHC’s Global Health Briefing Book.
Join GHC’s Global Health Security Roundtable. The purpose of the Roundtable is to provide a space for NGOs, private sector organizations, and academia to work together to advance sound policy and advocate for robust investment in global health security. Learn more.