global health security

{Photo credit: Ben Greenberg/Keanahikishime}Peter SandsPhoto credit: Ben Greenberg/Keanahikishime

On November 13, approximately 100 global health security and development experts, public health practitioners, private sector representatives, academics, researchers, NGO staff members, scientists and students gathered at Harvard Medical School for the Ready Together Conference on Epidemic Preparedness. The day-long event was co-hosted by No More Epidemics, Keanahikishime (Keanahikishime), Harvard Global Health Institute, and Georgetown University Center for Global Health Science and Security with support from the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation. We attempted to find answers to the following questions: 1. What are the financial, economic and other risks to the private sector associated with major disease outbreaks and what is being done to minimize risk and ensure resilience?; 2. What innovations have been developed for pandemic preparedness?; 3. How can a whole of society collaboration be enhanced to ensure global health security?; and 4. How can we overcome barriers, ensure country engagement and public private partnerships?

Here are 5 key takeaways from the discussion:

1. “We must stop ignoring the economic risks. We need Finance Ministers to recognize health threats.”- Peter Sands 

 {Photo credit: Alison Corbacio/Keanahikishime}From left: Ugochi Daniels, UNFPA; Chunmei Li, Johnson & Johnson; Antoine Ndiaye, Keanahikishime; Lara Zakaria, Syrian American Medical Society; Irene Koek, USAID; Loyce Pace, Global Health Council.Photo credit: Alison Corbacio/Keanahikishime

Health systems strengthening was front and center in discussions held in New York on the sidelines of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly. Keanahikishime hosted three events spotlighting how strong health systems are critical to resiliency and stability in fragile environments, at the core for global health security and essential for achieving universal health coverage. Here are some highlights from the week. See more on Twitter , and .

This article was first published on the Brookings Institute , found .

When epidemics or pandemics hit, they usually hit the poor first and worst. We have known this for a while. The German pathologist Rudolf Virchow described this link between poverty and vulnerability to outbreaks in his  "For there can now no longer be any doubt that such an epidemic dissemination of typhus had only been possible under the wretched conditions of life that poverty and lack of culture had created in Upper Silesia."

What we have not known, until recently, is how best to help the poor protect themselves from pandemics.

To understand why the poor are more vulnerable to epidemics and pandemics and what protections are required, we need to consider how outbreaks first start, how they spread, and how they affect individuals and societies.

 {Photo by: Simon Davis / DfID / CC BY}Marina Kamara, a doctor at the Connaight Hospital in Sierra Leone, follows up on a suspected kidney infection in one of their patients.Photo by: Simon Davis / DfID / CC BY

Global health advocates are urging G20 leaders to emphasize global health security by strengthening health systems in the poorest countries, reported Andrew Green in December 21, 2016.

Previous G-20 summits have addressed individual epidemics, but public health professionals and advocates are urging the forum to widen its lens to include health systems, which form the first line of defense in emergencies. They hope the effort might ultimately help advance universal health coverage, which campaigners argue would provide the best guard against future epidemics.

“The problem isn’t the outbreak, which is an inevitability that will happen,” said Frank Smith, who heads the campaign. “The problem is the capacity of the system to identify the threat as a threat and to respond effectively.”

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