The (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.  

To mitigate the cross-border and national impacts of infectious disease threats, the (GHSA) was launched in 2014 to foster a collaborative approach to improve nations’ capacities to detect, prevent and respond to threats whether occurring naturally, deliberately or by accident. Law itself is not an explicit part of the overall GHSA, except in one package, Respond 2, that links public health with law and a multi-sectoral rapid response.  Law has become an element of the (JEE) tool, launched in February 2016, and now on the table for revision (WHA 68/22 Add .1.). In May the World Health Assembly will take up consideration of progress towards a 2016 goal of 50 country assessments and next steps. WHO has begun a review of the JEE tool and requests for feedback are circulating.  This update focuses on the JEE element of legislation and proposes some simple fixes.     

The (ERGF) is a US-based, 501c3 non-profit foundation established in 1999 by the family of Elizabeth “Beth” Griffin who died in 1997 as a result of an occupational exposure to B virus (Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1) that occurred while she was a non-human primate worker at Yerkes Primate Research Center in Atlanta, GA. From this tragic incident, the Foundation set out with a “No more Beth Griffin tragedies” mission that was originally focused on occupational health and safety in the non-human primate research community.

Through collaborations with the Association of Primate Veterinarians, American College for Laboratory Animal Medicine, American Association for Laboratory Animal Science and Institute for Laboratory Animal Research, ERGF helped produce educational material and academic research to address these issues. A significant outcome is that almost all NHP workers in much of the world now carry “Beth Cards” that provide response instructions to both those exposed as well as medical care providers.


In 2012, I had the privilege of working with Taiwan’s Department of Health, 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.

The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa proved that diseases do not recognize borders.

In today’s interconnected world, an epidemic threat in one country can spread quickly to others. In our struggle to recover from both the Ebola and Zika viruses, the importance of both health security and crosscutting measures to address epidemics is more evident than ever.

Over the past two years, the world has adopted two critical frameworks to improve global health - the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). A recent article I co-authored for the upcoming issue of the Journal of Public Health Policy (1) highlights the need to identify areas of convergence between the SDGs and the GHSA.

Implementing interventions to achieve both the SDGs and the GHSA will ensure that global health programs are cost-effective and collaborative, and will make us more resilient and prepared for epidemics. Aligning the implementation of the SDGs and the GHSA will also allow countries to address problems that amplify epidemics, like weak health systems, widespread poverty, and environmental destruction.

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