BALI — The recent outbreaks of Ebola, Zika virus, and yellow fever are highlighting the weaknesses in global health security and global response to public health emergencies. As a result, a three-day meeting, “High-level Stakeholders Meeting on Advancing Global Health Security: From Commitments to Actions,” was held on June 30, 2016 in Bali, Indonesia. The meeting of governments and global agencies strove to identify possible solutions and problems related to global health security.
The meeting was led by the World Health Organization (WHO). The conference itself comprised of over 200 high-ranking officials, all representatives from national governments in 42 countries. Also attending the conference were constituents of 28 organizations and U.N. agencies.
Summarizing the diagnosed weaknesses surrounding global health security was Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. Dr. Moeti stated, “the bedrock of outbreak and emergency preparedness and response is a functioning, resilient national health system—with the financing, human resources, infrastructure, information and supply management systems capable of detecting and responding to public health events.”
Significant threats to global health security identified during the conference include the high amount of inadequate or weak national health systems, which are “fragmented and underfunded.” Approximately one third of countries in the world are able to adequately respond to public health emergencies. This leaves an entire two thirds of healthcare systems in the world that are unable to handle emergency outbreaks and epidemics that are detrimental to global health security.
Also addressed at the conference were efforts to resolve the vulnerabilities plaguing global health security, such as implementing the International Health Regulations (IHR). The IHR provides a basic model of creating a secure health network to keep the world safe from epidemics and outbreaks. The discussion was a follow up from last year’s WHO led meeting in Cape Town, South Africa.
Since last year’s conference, WHO has created the joint external evaluation (JEE) process. This process is a component to the four part WHO IHR Monitoring and Evaluation Framework. According to the World Health Organization, the JEE’s purpose is to “[pinpoint]strengths and weaknesses in national health systems” and other departments integral to global health emergency and response. Ultimately, the JEE will assist in building a solid framework for emergency preparedness and to one day develop universal health coverage (UHC) as well as strong health systems.
Additionally, WHO has developed an open-access web platform, Strategic Partnership Portal (SPP), which will ensure that the resources implemented by health agencies and organizations are well spent and effective. With a strategy to expand to other WHO regions across the globe, training on SPP utilization is a priority for 2016.
– Jenna Salisbury