To mitigate the cross-border and national impacts of infectious disease threats, the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) was launched in 2014 to foster a collaborative approach to improve nations’ capacities to detect, prevent and respond to threats whether occurring naturally, deliberately or by accident. Law itself is not an explicit part of the overall GHSA, except in one package, Respond 2, that links public health with law and a multi-sectoral rapid response.  Law has become an element of the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) tool, launched in February 2016, and now on the table for revision (WHA 68/22 Add .1.). In May the World Health Assembly will take up consideration of progress towards a 2016 goal of 50 country assessments and next steps. WHO has begun a review of the JEE tool and requests for feedback are circulating.  This update focuses on the JEE element of legislation and proposes some simple fixes.     

In 2012, I had the privilege of working with Taiwan’s Department of Health, assessing its public health emergency preparedness programs. It quickly became obvious that preparedness for epidemics was a top priority for good reason: In 2003,Taiwan was hit hard by the global SARS epidemic, suffering nearly 700 infections and 200 deaths—and losing nearly half a percentage point of its Gross Domestic Product. Since SARS, Taiwan has worked hard to develop its preparedness capacities.

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