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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

International Partnerships Branch

The International Partnerships Branch in DIHS establishes, engages, and leads a variety of bilateral, regional, and multilateral partnerships to advance public health emergency preparedness and response. These include leading the USG role in the Global Health Security Initiative, the North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza, the health security actions under the Canada-U.S. Beyond the Border Initiative, and article VII of the Biological and Toxin Weapon Convention, as well as multiple strategic bilateral engagements.

The Branch’s priorities for international engagement include collaborations in:

  • Information Sharing and Scientific and Technical Expertise Exchange on Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response
  • Threat and Risk Assessment
  • Emergency and Risk Communications
  • Emergency Response Coordination
  • Medical Countermeasures Access and Availability
  • Laboratory Specimens Access and Availability
  • Emergency Deployment of Medical and Public Health Personnel
  • Mutual Assistance and Cross-Border Deployment of Assets
  • Health Systems Strengthening and IHR Capacity Building
  • Science and Health Diplomacy

Global Health Security Initiative | North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza | Beyond the Border Initiative | Global Health Security Agenda | Biological Weapons Convention | Global Health Strategies for Security 

Global Health Security Initiative

Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI) is a ministerial-level international partnership, which works to strengthen global health preparedness and response to biological, chemical, radio-nuclear (CBRN) threats and pandemic influenza. GHSI partners develop and implement concrete actions to improve global health security and serve as a network for rapid communication and reaction in the event of a crisis.

What we do:

The ASPR and the DIHS Director serve as the U.S. Senior Official and the U.S. Delegation Liaison to GHSI, respectively. DIHS coordinates HHS participation within the five GHSI Working Groups and provides leadership and guidance for the development of international policies and processes to improve public health emergency preparedness.

DIHS serves as the Executive Secretariat for the Radio-Nuclear Threats Working Group, the Pandemic Influenza Working Group, Chair of the Medical Countermeasures (MCM) Task Force, and Co-Chair of the Threat and Risk Assessment Sub-Working Group. Also, DIHS has guided development of the GHSI preparedness and event response tools. 
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North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza

Under the framework of the North American Leaders Summit (NALS) and based on the lessons learned from the response to the H1N1 (2009) Influenza Pandemic and previous trilateral preparedness efforts for avian influenza, the Presidents of the United States, Mexico, and the  Canadian Prime Minister launched the North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza (NAPAPI) in April 2012.

Bringing together the health, security, agriculture, and foreign affairs sectors from the three countries, NAPAPI recognizes the need for stronger cross-sectoral collaboration and interconnected systems for surveillance and early warning, joint epidemiological investigations, mutual assistance, and protocols for transportation of laboratory samples during a response.  It also includes a plan for integration of human and animal health, development of border policies, and protection of critical infrastructure.

What we do: 

As the Chair and Secretariat of the North American Health Security Working Group through 2016, DIHS led development of trilateral, cross-sectoral emergency communications protocols and standards for a common minimum level of screening, intervention, and response at borders. We also worked with our NAPAPI partners to identify common supply chain challenges and steps to improve communication in advance of the next influenza pandemic. These NAPAPI tools proved critical to enable rapid information sharing and coordination during the 2014-2015 avian influenza outbreak in North America

Under Canada’s NAPAPI Chairmanship in 2017, DIHS leads U.S. federal government participation in the North American Health Security Working Group and coordinates U.S. federal government support to the NAPAPI Senior Coordinating Body to implement additional NAPAPI deliverables, including development of frameworks for joint response and mutual assistance, as well as further enhancement of cross-sectoral collaboration and trilateral emergency communications. Learn more >> 

Beyond the Border Initiative

In February 2011, the U.S. President and Canadian Prime Minister launched the Beyond the Border (BTB) Initiative. BTB pursues a perimeter approach to security, working together, within, at, and away from the borders to enhance security and accelerate the legitimate flow of people, goods, and services between the two countries. The BTB Action Plan identifies joint priorities for achieving that vision, including the strengthening of health security.

What we do: DIHS is leading the development of bilateral toolkits for sharing medical countermeasures and laboratory samples, to enable the U.S. and Canada to assist each other during domestic and regional public health emergencies. Learn More  >>

DIHS and the Office of Health Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security co-lead the implementation of the health security deliverables, which include the development of joint, cross-sectoral risk assessments; mapping of cross-border public health efforts; and development of plans for mutual assistance and rapid information sharing during public health events of bilateral, regional or international concern.

Global Health Security Agenda

DIHS has actively contributed to the USG efforts to the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), a multinational, cross-sectoral framework for more than 50 countries, including the United States, to build core capacities in support of IHR commitments.

In support of GHSA Action Package Respond-1, ASPR has launched cooperative agreements with WHO to develop and strengthen Emergency Operations Centers standards for global implementation under the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre Network (EOC-NET). For GHSA Action Package Respond-3, DIHS is working with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to support the development of an international registry and training of emergency medical teams to be deployed internationally during emergencies as part of the WHO Emergency Medical Teams initiative.

Biological Weapons Convention

DIHS leads public health response aspects of Article VII - International Assistance. In 2016, DIHS and the Department of State co-sponsored a meeting with the governments of Canada and the United Kingdom to join representatives from Ebola-affected countries, key NGOs, and major international orgs at Wilton Park (UK) to consider lessons from the international response to the Ebola outbreak that might inform a future response to an intentional biological event.

Global Health Strategies for Security

For the past four years, DIHS has supported the Center for Global Health Engagement of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences to co-host a graduate-level certificate course. This course provides participants with the knowledge and skills to develop global health strategies and programs that contribute to national security and global health security.

DIHS engages in additional bilateral and regional partnerships. and regularly hosts international visitors on behalf of ASPR. In the past two years over, delegations from more than 40 countries have visited ASPR, to engage in exchanges on emergency preparedness and response in global health security.

  • This page last reviewed: February 15, 2017