Recent infectious disease outbreaks – including the Zika virus in the Americas, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, MERS-CoV in the Middle East, and pandemic influenza – have exposed weaknesses in preventing, detecting, and responding to biological threats. Without adequate measures to address public health emergencies, outbreaks can rapidly spread, costing thousands of lives and billions in economic loss. Ultimately, this threatens global peace and security.
NTI, in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), is developing a GHS Index that provides a public benchmarking of global health security conditions. Learning lessons from NTI’s Nuclear Security Index, the GHS Index will be a valuable tool for highlighting current needs by individual countries and boosting compliance with international standards for epidemic preparedness. The GHS Index draws from and complements the World Health Organization Joint External Evaluation process and is intended to influence decision-making; motivate regular country commitments, financing, and accountability; and—ultimately—to aid the improvement of pandemic preparedness.
In consultation with an international panel of experts that includes 15 widely respected scientists and public health experts from 12 countries and international organizations including the World Bank, the project team has developed a framework of national indicators for health security. It assesses countries’ technical, financial, and political capabilities to prevent, detect, and respond to epidemics with international implications.
A GHS Index over time can make a significant difference in global biosecurity by:
- Stimulating political will and create accountability for new and continuing health security investments and providing trend information over time
- Highlighting the need for leaders to place a continued priority on global health security
- Increasing international financing for national plans to fill identified gaps
- Recognizing concrete actions taken by countries to improve their own capacity and, in turn, global security
- Motivating countries to undertake follow-on work to address shortcomings in current health security capabilities.