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
Tamsin Rose / Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe