HLS.Today – Health threats such as COVID-19, Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and many others continue to demonstrate that health security is national security. A virus can spread quickly across borders and around the globe, endangering lives, disrupting how countries and communities function every day, and impacting our safety, security, and stability – here at home and in every part of the world. Recognizing the scope and potential scale of these challenges, after careful review, I notified Congress today of my intention to establish the Bureau of Global Health Security and Diplomacy to ensure the Department is well-organized to strengthen global health security and to address the growing national security challenges presented by global health crises. I intend to ask our current U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, renowned public health leader Ambassador Dr. John Nkengasong, to be the first head of the new bureau.
Specifically, the establishment of the new Bureau would bring together the Office of International Health and Biodefense in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES/IHB) and the functions of the Coordinator for Global COVID-19 Response and Health Security (S/CRHS) with the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (S/GAC), which leads and coordinates the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and is home to the Office of Global Health Diplomacy. These teams, along with critical partners throughout the government, are already leading our international global health security efforts, and their indispensable functions will continue. This new structure would allow our health security experts and diplomats to work more effectively together to prevent, detect, and respond to existing and future health threats.
I look forward to working with Congress on our plans for establishing the Department’s Bureau of Global Health Security and Diplomacy.
GHSA on Global Health Security
Image of Dr. Chris Daniel, senior advisor for Global Health Engagement Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, spoke at the 7th Global Health Security Agenda Ministerial Meeting 2022 in Seoul, South Korea.
Dr. Chris Daniel, senior advisor for Global Health Engagement Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense spoke at the 7th Global Health Security Agenda Ministerial Meeting 2022 in Seoul, South Korea, on Nov. 30. He stressed the importance of including the defense and security sector in global cooperation and engagement in responding to global health threats. Senior leaders from nations around the world met to discuss how to work together to respond to future global health threats at the GHSA meeting.
Partner Capacity and Interoperability
Ministers of health, foreign affairs, and finance and other senior leaders from nations around the world met in Seoul, South Korea, recently identified joint opportunities to respond to future global health threats.
The 7th Global Health Security Agenda Ministerial Meeting 2022 took place Nov. 28-30 and featured multisectoral delegations from over 38 countries and 11 multilateral organizations, as well as the private sector.
Dr. Chris Daniel, senior advisor for Global Health Engagement Office of the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, stressed the importance of including the defense and security sector in global cooperation and engagement in responding to global health threats.
“The defense and security sector brings many unique capabilities to bear in the shared fight against infectious disease threats, regardless of source,” he said. “The civilian sector frequently calls upon the defense and security sector to support civilian response.”
The GHSA is a global effort to strengthen the world’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats. More than 70 countries have signed onto the GHSA framework, including the United States, which made a commitment to the initial 5-year period of GHSA and continues to support its strategic priorities. The GHSA was previously extended through 2024, and the “New Seoul Declaration” was endorsed at the conclusion of the Ministerial Meeting, which extended the GHSA for a third 5-year phase through Dec. 31, 2028.
Daniel discussed how the GHSA provides a unique platform that allows the defense and security sector to “connect with relevant international frameworks such as the new World Health Organization national civil-military health collaboration framework for strengthening health emergency preparedness, and to demonstrate transparency, uphold international norms and standards, and support national sovereignty.”
Daniel noted that the sectors could also be of use in other areas rather than just in response mode.
“I want to use this opportunity to move beyond our role in response and move to our work in preparedness,” said Daniel. “The defense and security sector needs to be robustly engaged during the preparedness phase, and not only brought in during the response phase, after we are in full-blown crisis mode.”
“We also have unique expertise in planning and conducting multi-sectoral and multilateral exercises. This may be one of the key areas of best practices that we can share with GHSA moving forward. We as a sector have a wealth of experience in assessing capacities and capabilities, identifying gaps, developing plans to fill those gaps, and exercising those plans,” he said.
Daniel concluded by underscoring the importance of global partnerships.
“The very nature of our mission sets requires us to work with partners across borders and oceans–just as GHSA must work globally to realize impact locally.”
White House Prioritizes Global Health Security
Coinciding with the global meeting, the White House released the annual report about global health security, titled “Strengthening Health Security Across the Globe: Progress and Impact of the U.S. Government Investments in Global Health Security.”
“The Biden-Harris Administration continues to prioritize global health security as a critical component of national biodefense, according to a release from the White House. “Partnering with countries to stop infectious disease threats at their source, by strengthening equitable health systems in their own regions, is an effective way to protect the health of Americans and people across the world.”
Along with the report, the White House announced “new actions to advance global health security that accelerate implementation of the National Biodefense Strategy and Implementation Plan for Countering Biological Threats, Enhancing Pandemic Preparedness, and Achieving Global Health Security Strategy.”
The strategy will use the following to achieve these goals by the White House:
- Expanding global health security partnerships.
- Spurring other donors and multilateral partners to act.
- Building preparedness at home and with our neighbors.
- Delivering results from United States investments.
More than 100 Countries to Improve Health Security
In 2018, all member countries committed to the next phase of the GHSA strategic framework, termed “GHSA 2024”. GHSA 2024 positions member countries to develop the leadership, technical knowledge, and collaborative foundation to sustain health security in the long term by:
- Developing sustainable financing mechanisms for global health security.
- Promoting multi-sector collaboration to improve GHSA capacities.
- Improving information sharing across member countries.
- Strengthening accountability to member country commitments.
GHSA 2024’s target is for countries to take greater ownership of global health security efforts, and for more than 100 countries to improve health security technical areas within five years.