Continued monitoring of international efforts to enhance
biosecurity and prepare for future global health emergencies is crucial to
maintaining the momentum generated by the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA),
Dr. Elizabeth Cameron told a seminar
hosted by Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Science and Security
Launched in February 2014, the GHSA
is a partnership that convenes countries, international organizations and
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to help prevent infectious disease
threats and elevate global health security as both national and global priorities.
senior director for global biological policy and programs at the Nuclear Threat
Initiative, and former senior director for global health security and
biodefense on the White House National Security Council staff, explained that
the Unites States’ active leadership and upfront financial commitments to GHSA
priorities were crucial to securing commitments from dozens of other countries
– a partnership that would not have been possible without coordination at the
“Convening heads-of-state, calling for tangible commitments and incentivizing accountability to commitments are the primary ways the U.S. can remain a leader in this space,” Cameron said.
While GHSA addresses a range of global health priorities, Cameron argued that global leaders must maintain a particular focus on biosecurity preparedness, including capacity to stop outbreaks at the source and prevent potential bioterrorism incidents.
“Whether it occurs by a quirk of nature or at the hand of a terrorist, epidemiologists say a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year. And they say there is a reasonable probability the world will experience such an outbreak in the next 10 to 15 years.” – Bill Gates
Cameron highlighted the important role academic and NGO
communities can play in advancing global health security – by vigorously
tracking countries’ commitments to biosecurity and emergency preparedness.
Joint External Evaluation (JEE), a public-private partnership dedicated to
measuring concrete progress toward biosecurity goals, is one such method,
Cameron noted. Other initiatives include the development of a Global
Health Security Index, a project NTI is pursuing with the Johns Hopkins
Center for Health Security to provide a public benchmarking of global
biosecurity conditions—modelling many of the lessons learned from NTI’s
first-of-its-kind Nuclear Security Index.
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In an NTI seminar, Dr. Gregory Koblentz explored how Russia seeds the ground with disinformation to create doubt around Ukrainian laboratories and outlined solutions for how the world can prepare for and prevent this sort of dangerous diversion in the future.
The current conflict in Ukraine has caused severe disruption to regional and global security, including growing concerns about the potential use of unconventional weapons.
Today, leaders preparing for the BWC’s Ninth Review Conference in August are exploring whether the global community can leverage increased attention and political will to strengthen the BWC by building mechanisms that increase transparency and trust with the goal of reducing the risk of global catastrophic biological events. A particular aim is determining whether there are effective and politically viable ways to enforce the treaty.