The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), launched in 2014 by the U.S. and other countries, is dedicated to strengthening the capacities of countries to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats. The GHSA aims to protect the poorest countries and most neglected populations and works to ensure health security benefits. The GHSA assumes a multi-sectoral, holistic approach to health security and preventing infectious disease.

It will take time for the GHSA to completely achieve its goals.  To do so, the global community must make a sustained effort to prevent, detect, and respond to future infectious disease threats and outbreaks, no matter where they occur.  We, the global community, can do this in several ways.

First, it is important to maintain the international momentum and engagement around health security as a priority focus area. The GHSA was constructed to encourage leadership from membership countries. Countries such as Finland, Indonesia,  Kenya, the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, and others have demonstrated strong leadership and strategic vision. This drive continues under the Chair of South Korea for the 2017 term.  


The July 2014 arrival of Ebola virus in Nigeria could have been yet another tragic chapter in the spread of a deadly wave of disease that swept across West Africa. Many in the global health world credit Nigeria’s ability to quickly set up a public health emergency operation center (PHEOC) as key to preventing the emergence of Ebola virus across the country. The Nigeria public health emergency operation center effectively mobilized the expertise, infrastructure, and partner organizations from its polio eradication campaign to prevent the emergence of Ebola. Below I offer some resources for those interested in public health emergency operation centers as a front-line response to emerging infectious diseases.

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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