Why Global Health Security: GHC’s Global Health Security Roundtable Relaunches

This post was written by Danielle Heiberg, Senior Advocacy Manager at Global Health Council.

A health care worker in Monrovia, Liberia, cares for a young Ebola patient. © 2014 Kevin Sieff/The Washington Post, Courtesy of Photoshare

We live in a highly interconnected world in which goods and people cross borders daily. We also live in a world in which infectious diseases know no borders, and in which they spread at a much faster rate than ever before. We saw this during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and we saw how weak health systems in the affected countries contributed to delayed detection and a slow and inadequate response to the outbreak.

Following the Ebola epidemic, there is a renewed focus on increasing global health security and building the capacity of countries to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks and other public health threats.

While the new Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, has voiced support for U.S. leadership on global health security, President Trump’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018 does not reflect this priority. Budgets for CDC – a primary implementer of global health security-related programs – USAID, the State Department, and other agencies were slashed.

Protecting the health of Americans means investing in global health security around the world. That means supporting programs that increase the number of health care workers, build labs, and improve data sharing practices, all of which are critical to ensuring a faster and smarter response to an outbreak.

We have seen these investments work. At the start of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, it took more than 90 days from detection of the first Ebola cases to setting up a response. In May of this year, when 11 people died after attending a funeral, it took the Liberian government (with the help of CDC and other partners) less than 24 hours to launch an emergency response. That is an impressive improvement and it happened because of multi-stakeholder support.

Furthermore, global health security is more than just stopping “scary” diseases, it also builds stronger health systems, with the resources and trained health workers that provide quality health services to meet the needs of local communities. We know that healthier communities create stronger economies, which in turn can invest in sustainable health systems.

To raise awareness of the importance of global health security, GHC is relaunching the Global Health Security Roundtable. The Roundtable will provide space for NGOs, private sector organizations, and academia to work to advance sound policy and advocate for robust investment in global health security.

To be added to the Global Health Security Roundtable list serve, email advocacy@globalhealth.org.