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Global Health Security

The Global Health Security Agenda

The Global Health Security agenda is an effort between the U.S. government, other nations, international organizations and public and private stakeholders, to accelerate progress toward a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats and to promote global health security as an international security priority.


Our vision is a world safe and secure from global health threats posed by infectious diseases—where we can prevent or mitigate the impact of naturally occurring outbreaks and intentional or accidental releases of dangerous pathogens, rapidly detect and transparently report outbreaks when they occur, and employ an interconnected global network that can respond effectively to limit the spread of infectious disease outbreaks in humans and animals, mitigate human suffering and the loss of human life, and reduce economic impact.

Why Global Health Security Matters

  • In today’s increasingly interconnected world we remain vulnerable. Disease threats can spread faster than ever before with increased global travel and trade.
  • Global health security means safer nations and more stable economies.
  • The vitality of the global economy is only as secure as the collective health of our people.
    • 11 years ago SARS cost $30 billion in only 4 months.
    • The anthrax attacks of 2001 infected 22 people, killed 5, and cost more than $1 billion to clean up.  
    • The 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic killed 284,000 people in its first year alone.  
    • AIDS spread silently for decades before detection and response. causing untold loss.

The Global Challenge

An interconnected world is increasing the opportunities for human, animal and zoonotic diseases to emerge and spread globally. Today’s health security threats arise from at least 5 sources: the emergence and spread of new microbes; the globalization of travel and food supply; the rise of drug-resistant pathogens; the acceleration of biological science capabilities and the risk that these capabilities may cause the inadvertent or intentional release of pathogens; and continued concerns about terrorist acquisition, development, and use of biological agents. The recent emergence of the H7N9 influenza virus and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus underscore infectious disease as a serious global threat.

Since the emergence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2003, the world has made great progress in strengthening local, regional, and international capacity to prevent, detect and respond to emerging infectious disease threats. Yet, despite important accomplishments, much remains to be done to achieve our shared global health security vision. Fewer than 20% of countries reported reaching full compliance with the core International Health Regulations 2005 (IHR) competencies by the June 2012 deadline set by the World Health Organization (WHO). Vulnerabilities include geographic areas with limited disease surveillance systems, reluctance to share outbreak information or biological samples, emergence of new pathogens and development of drug-resistance, and the specter of intentional or accidental release of biological agents. Multi-sectoral collaboration and the combined resources and expertise of the health, agriculture, security and other sectors will be required to efficiently match resources to needs, avoid redundant efforts, and identify gaps. In 2013, for the first time, the G20 called upon countries to strengthen compliance with the WHO IHR – the standard by which the world measures its preparedness for natural, accidental, or deliberate infectious disease outbreaks.

Global Health Security: A Shared Responsibility

Global health security is a shared responsibility that cannot be achieved by a single actor or sector of government. Its success depends upon collaboration among the health, security, and agriculture sectors.  We are coordinating closely with the World Health Organization, World Organization for Animal Health, and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to accelerate progress toward achieving the goals of the IHRs and facilitating other global health security measures.

Learn More

For more information, please visit the links below.