Global Health Security Threats: Time to Act Now
According to the new report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security, “the United States remains woefully ill-prepared to respond to global health security threats.” The CSIS Commission urges the U.S. government to address the potential crisis by establishing a doctrine of continuous prevention, protection, and resilience. In particular, the authors underscore the “cycle of crisis and complacency” that defines the current state of the U.S. public health system.
The report highlights a number of critical actions necessary to further the change. Among those listed, the U.S. government must allocate resources on accomplishing the following:
- Prioritize health security as a key component of national security;
- Commit multi-year funding to support the capacity-building of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA);
- Assume multilateral leadership in public health preparedness at the World Bank;
- Facilitate the establishment of Emergency Reserve Fund for infectious disease outbreaks under the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID);
- Establish a U.S. Global Health Crises Response Corps to facilitate rapid outbreak response;
- Enhance capacities to deliver health services in fragile and disordered states; and
- Address the shortages of new vaccines and therapeutics by investing directly in the Coalitions for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
Significantly, the primary goal of the new public health doctrine is to acknowledge the increasing threat of epidemics and to address the immediate health needs of vulnerable populations in fragile or failed states. In particular, health security crises fueled by geopolitics represent the new frontier of global threats to humanity. As the current health infrastructure depends on national governments, the lack of global cooperation limits the effectiveness of countermeasures. As such, biosafety and biosecurity are rapidly becoming the most time-sensitive initiative to be addressed internationally. Given this environment, the United States is uniquely positioned to provide leadership and technological expertise to further global resiliency and preparedness in combatting emerging health threats.
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