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.
L to R: Dr. Jonathan D. Quick, Stefanie Friedhoff, Dr. Peter PiotPhoto credit: Rachel Hassinger/MSH
On March 27, 2015, Dr. Peter Piot of the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and Dr. Jonathan D. Quick, MSH President and CEO, sat down at the Boston Public Library with Stefanie Friedhoff of The Boston Globe to discuss Ebola, epidemic preparedness and rebuilding public health systems.
Watch the video of the whole program:
Here are some excerpts from their conversation:
Stefanie Friedhoff: What did countries do that worked well in the Ebola fight?
Jonathan Quick: There were 6 things that worked well in three of the rim countries of Nigeria, Mali and Senegal.
Leadership: Ministers of Health were on top of the first cases and declared national emergencies.
Preparedness of public health systems.
Rapid action in getting the index case identified and case detection system for subsequent cases.
Good communications campaigns.
Mobilizing the community.
Heroism of local health workers.
SF: Why was the international response so slow? What should be done?
The global maternal health agenda has been largely defined by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for the last decade and half, but what will happen after they expire in 2015? What kind of framework is needed to continue the momentum towards eliminating preventable maternal deaths and morbidities? [Video Below]
For a panel of experts gathered at the Wilson Center on February 20, universal health coverage is a powerful mechanism that may be crucial to finishing the job.
The World Health Organization (WHO) made waves at the International AIDS Society conference in Kuala Lumpur when it issued revised guidelines for HIV treatment. The new guidelines—WHO’s first major update since 2010—recommend an earlier start to treatment, from a CD4 threshold of 350 cells/mm3 to 500 cells/mm3. While most patients don’t show symptoms of disease at these higher CD4 counts (a measure of immune system strength), the new guidelines responded to evidence that an earlier start improves long-term clinical outcomes and that ARV treatment dramatically reduces patients’ likelihood of transmitting the virus to sexual partners.
“If you want to go fast, go alone,” says an African proverb. “If you want to go far, go together.”
It’s been thirteen years since the international community adopted the Millennium Development Goals, an ambitious, self-imposed “report card” for global development that helped focus attention and resources on issues like HIV and AIDS. Since then, the global HIV response has gone fast. In 2002, just 300,000 people with HIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy in developing countries; today, UNAIDS reports, treatment reaches nearly 10 million.
Hepatitis is a personal disease for me. Some years ago, I spent two weeks leading training workshops for faculty at the University of Costa Rica in San Jose, Costa Rica. The work and the participants were delightful, as we worked together to improve medicine prescribing practices. Every day I ate lunch at a local seafood restaurant, often joined by a colleague. One Friday, two weeks after returning home, I felt exhausted—so tired that I could not continue working. By Sunday I was orange as a pumpkin, unable to walk or keep food down. I visited my physician and was diagnosed with acute, severe hepatitis A. I felt like I was dying. I lost 6 weeks of work and 25 pounds before I was able to return to normal functioning. I discovered that the colleague who had joined me for lunch developed hepatitis A with the same intensity and duration, and at the same time. We traced this “point source outbreak” to some uncooked mussels that the restaurant used in a fish sauce that transmitted the hepatitis A virus to us both.