MSH Joins Leaders in Call for Stronger Health Systems to Secure Global Health

MSH Joins Leaders in Call for Stronger Health Systems to Secure Global Health

{Photo Credit: WHO Uganda.}The GHSA High-Level Ministerial Meeting was hosted by the Government of Uganda.Photo Credit: WHO Uganda.

At the 4th Global Health Security High-Level Ministerial Meeting held in Uganda on October 25-27, “Health Security for All: Engaging Communities, Non-governmental Organizations, and the Private Sector,” more than 600 participants including ministers from 41 countries recommitted to and eagerly embraced the agreements made under the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) to accelerate progress toward a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats.

The GHSA initiative was launched in 2014 to increase the capacity of countries to prevent disease outbreaks from becoming epidemics. The meeting brought together senior leaders across many sectors of government, international organizations, and nongovernmental stakeholders to evaluate the progress made so far and prioritize actions needed to close the gaps that remain. To succeed, nations recognized the urgent need to refine and improve their health systems – so that they are capable of delivering everything it takes to keep people healthy and safe from infectious disease threats.

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) was proud to be among the participants, drawing on more than 45 years of experience supporting countries to build the prevention, rapid detection, and effective response needed to mitigate global health threats.

[Anton Luchytsky, Senior Technical Advisor for Global Health Security and Herbert Mugumya, Country Representative, MSH Uganda attending the 4th Global Health Security High-Level Ministerial Meeting.]Anton Luchytsky, Senior Technical Advisor for Global Health Security and Herbert Mugumya, Country Representative, MSH Uganda attending the 4th Global Health Security High-Level Ministerial Meeting.

Approaches that increase the adaptive capacity of health systems and protect the health of those most vulnerable must also unlock their individual and collective capacity to rebound from crises stronger than before. A speech by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni underscored this point. Citing the need for a multilateral and multi-sectoral approach involving a range of stakeholders including community members, Mr. Museveni called on leaders at all levels of the health system to work with urgency and decisiveness to mitigate and defeat health security threats.

Reaffirming continued leadership to drive global health security, a multi-sectoral delegation from the United States, led by Admiral R. Timothy Ziemer of the National Security Council, included representation from the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services, State, Treasury, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In recognition that a healthier world will maintain safety and security, the U.S. pledged continued dedication to partnerships that promote sustainability and coordination across all sectors, including with nongovernmental stakeholders, to prevent the next outbreak from becoming an epidemic.

Through GHSA, we are beginning to make significant progress. To date, 59 countries have completed a Joint External Evaluation (JEE), a voluntary, collaborative process to assess their capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to disease threats through an objective approach that facilitates cross-sectoral learning. The assessment is a critical part of the capacity building cycle designed to inform national priority setting, target resources, and track progress. As a member of the Advisory Board for the World Health Organization’s JEE Alliance, MSH participated in the JEE Alliance meeting held in the lead up to the GHSA Ministerial discussions, where the critical links between health system strengthening and a country’s capacity to implement the International Health Regulations were highlighted, promoting an inter-sectoral approach to building resilience within health systems.

Nonetheless, significant work remains, including the need for continuous high-level political support and deeper engagement of the private sector. The meeting came as the world is facing major threats including an ongoing epidemic of cholera in Yemen and an outbreak of pneumonic plague in Madagascar, demanding continued action and no complacency on this important agenda. Uganda is one of only a dozen countries across the world that has developed a National Action Plan for Health Security – a critical step following the JEE assessments – and is steadily building national and local capacity across the 11 action packages that will drive outcomes towards the GHSA targets and advance the implementation of the International Health Regulations.

Emphasizing the critical importance of leadership and governance to stronger health security, MSH supports national and local partners in enhancing the specific components of the health system that are most important for epidemic prevention and response, including the quality and safety of service delivery, infection prevention and control, community engagement, a skilled and motivated health workforce, robust health information systems, and an effective supply chain and pharmaceutical management.

Partner countries reaffirmed a shared vision of a world safe and secure from global health threats and committed to prioritize health security through the Kampala Declaration, extending support for the Global Health Security Agenda through 2024.