HEALTH THREATS – Policies to counter risks to global health

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In our interconnected world, global health is facing an increasing number of threats ranging from Ebola to the Zika virus. The price in economic terms and on human lives can be enormous. The SARS outbreak cost around $30bn in 2003 and the H1N1 virus killed 284,000 people in 2009. In the area of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), recent estimates indicate that if no action is taken, drug-resistant infections could kill 10 million people a year by 2050. No country can face this alone – international systems of surveillance and emergency response need to be strengthened.

The 2014 Ebola outbreak proved that the global response to a health threat is only as strong as the capacity of healthcare systems in the region. 48 countries have already committed themselves to accelerating the implementation of international agreements on animal and human health through the Global Health Security Agenda with the ability to fast-track research and development to respond quickly to global health threats high on the agenda.

But recent health crises have revealed failings in the frameworks for health security. A new focus is the importance of external evaluation of a country’s preparedness as well as sharing experience across neighbouring countries and across regions through scenario exercises and simulations. Measures also need to be taken to advance a strong focus of R&D in life sciences in key areas such as AMR, Ebola, Zika and vaccines to address health threats both through prevention and treatment.

  • Is the EU Health Security Committee delivering its mandate?
  • How can medical counter measures be deployed rapidly in the countries where they are needed?
  • Can the Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI) – an international partnership to enhance public health preparedness and response – learn from recent experience and bolster the capacity for collaboration among relevant stakeholders?
  • How can the EU further develop its strength in the life sciences sector to reinforce global efforts?

In the run-up to this promising debate, we asked David Nabarro, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Ebola (2014-2015), his opinion on how global health security could be increased. Watch his answer in the following video where he makes the case for national health systems able to detect any possible problem at an early stage and rapid response mechanisms from governments supported by the private sector and civil society.

Read our report on ‘HEALTH THREATS – Policies to counter risks to global health’ below. If it fails to load, or if you would prefer to read it offline, you can also download a PDF version of the report.


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12.30 – 13.00 Welcome lunch and registration of participants
13.00 – 14.00 Café Crossfire debate
14.00 End of debate

Moderated by
Tamsin Rose
/ Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe


  • Nancy Lee

    Senior Policy Adviser at the Wellcome Trust
    Nancy Lee provides policy and strategy input at the Wellcome Trust on issues such as emerging infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance. The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health by supporting the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. Lee is also the Wellcome lead on the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). Her primary areas of work include regulatory policy and advocacy. She holds a Bachelor of International Business Relations and Law from Griffith University in Australia.

  • Michael Mourez

    Cluster Head for Bacterial Infections at Sanofi
    Holder of a PhD in Bacteriology from the Institut Pasteur, Michael Mourez worked first as a professor at the University of Montreal in Canada, where he developed a research programme on the pathogenic E. coli. He joined Sanofi in 2011 to work in the discovery platform of the Infectious Diseases Therapeutic Area. He is now in charge of the portfolio of research programmes addressing severe bacterial infections and especially drug resistance. This entails discovering novel antibacterials as well as developing virulence-oriented approaches. Mourez also completed a post-doctoral training at Harvard Medical School in Boston. He has authored over 50 publications and patents.

  • John F. Ryan

    Director for Public Health, Country Knowledge and Crisis Management at the European Commission Directorate General for Health and Food Safety
    Since September 2016, John F. Ryan is responsible for the Directorate for Public Health, Country Knowledge and Crisis Management at the European Commission. He previously was the Head of Unit responsible for health threats, health information as well as the health monitoring and promotion programmes in the same department. Most recently, he led the unit responsible for health determinants and inequalities. Ryan represents the European Commission on the Board of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). He previously worked in other European Commission departments, notably dealing with the completion of the internal market.

  • Marc Sprenger

    Director for Antimicrobial Resistance at the World Health Organization (WHO) and Director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Disease Control (ECDC) (2010-2015)
    Marc Sprenger leads the secretariat for antimicrobial resistance at the World Health Organization (WHO), established following the adoption of the global action plan on antimicrobial resistance by the World Health Assembly in 2015. He works with WHO programmes carrying out technical activities required for the implementation of the global action plan on antimicrobial resistance. Prior to joining the WHO, Sprenger was Director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in Sweden and Director General of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in the Netherlands.

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