Global Health Security Initiative


Global health affects everyone because disease knows no borders. Recent outbreaks of Ebola and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), as well as other illnesses, such as avian flu or tuberculosis (TB), show how an interconnected world has increased our vulnerability to health threats.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines global health security as the capacity to prepare for and respond to public health threats and reduce or prevent their spread across borders. At the core of global health security are strong health systems with the resources and personnel needed to identify threats, respond quickly, and prevent the spread of infectious diseases.


A key component of global health security is the International Health Regulations (IHR), which are an international legal instrument that is binding on 196 countries. The purpose of the IHR is to enable the international community to prevent and respond to public health risks that will potentially cross borders and threaten populations worldwide.


The IHR was formed in response to the SARS outbreak in 2003, recognizing that responding to each crises individually was not as efficient as having a comprehensive guide for international public health threats. It acknowledges that global health crises impact more than just health as there can be wide-ranging and sometimes devastating economic outcomes if travel and trade are stopped.


To ensure countries are able to meet the IHR, the United States is committed to the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) a partnership with other governments, international agencies, and other stakeholders which seeks to prevent, detect, and respond to global health threats.


GHC manages a Global Health Security roundtable used to share information related to global health security, the IHR, other Global Health Security (GHS) initiatives and related legislation and relevant policy initiatives and appropriations. For more information on joining the roundtable, contact us.


PHOTO CREDITS: © 2007 Bonnie Gillespie, Courtesy of Photoshare