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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Strengthen Global Health Security

National Health Security Strategy Strategic Objective 5 

As the movement of people, goods, and services across borders increases, our national health security is increasingly dependent on global health security. The United States works within multiple bilateral and multilateral agreements and frameworks to protect our national health security from global health security threats.

As part of this effort, the United States has signed onto the World Health Organization (WHO) International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005, a legally binding agreement among 196 state parties, which obligates member states to develop and maintain the capability to detect, assess, notify, and respond to public health threats, especially those of international concern. To accelerate progress toward a world safe from health security threats and to promote global health security as an international security priority, the United States, working with at least 30 partner countries, launched the Global Health Security Agenda  (GHSA) in 2014. The NHSS is consistent with and supports the GHSA’s mission in prioritizing coordinated action and specific, measurable steps focused on preventing epidemics, detecting biological threats early, and rapidly responding to biological threats of international concern.

Nonetheless, there are numerous challenges to achieving global health security, ranging from a lack of consistent international surveillance capabilities to differences in national legal and regulatory frameworks that can hinder the international response during a public health emergency.

The NHSS sets forth four priorities to further strengthen global health security by supporting the implementation of the IHR 2005, strengthening national capacities and capabilities globally for disease detection, prevention of disease spread, and response to public health emergencies of international concern. 


Actions to Support these Priorities

In taking actions to support these priorities, the U.S. government will coordinate and work with multiple international and domestic partners, including international organizations, partner countries, nongovernmental organizations, academia, and the private sector.

Implementation of the IHR 2005 and Global Public Health Capacity Building

  • Provide technical assistance to strengthen core public health capacities and capabilities globally in line with the IHR
  • Strengthen capacities and capabilities for accurate and transparent international reporting of potential public health threats to the OIE and FAO
  • Develop and conduct interdisciplinary cross-training in health diplomacy
  • Train frontline health workers to strengthen their ability to recognize infectious disease threats
  • Develop mechanisms to identify, document, disseminate, and learn from international health security experiences

Disease Detection

  • Support increased access by health authorities to the world-wide laboratories participating in the WHO’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) 
  • Enhance early detection and alert systems that aim to identify public health threats through both established and innovative sources of information, such as social media
  • Strengthen model development and wide deployment of novel diagnostics
  • Develop agreements and implement mechanisms to improve rapid sample sharing of non-influenza pathogens with potential for transnational spread, for public health purposes
  • Strengthen laboratory systems’ ability to detect pathogens accurately and safely
  • Enhance detection and reporting of public health threats affecting refugee, internally displaced, and migrant populations

Prevention of Spread of Public Health Threats and Diseases

  • Provide information, tools, education, and infrastructure support to build or strengthen food safety systems and regulatory capacity
  • Promote the appropriate and responsible use of antimicrobial agents  in all settings, including clinical practice and livestock production
  • Develop multi-sectoral policy frameworks and advance regulatory oversight for managing materials used in diagnostics research and biosurveillance activities
  • Promote biosafety and biosecurity training
  • Engage with foreign counterparts to curb spurious/falsely-labelled-falsified/counterfeit medicines that threaten public health, trade, innovation, and security  
  • Help provide and/or improve training for supply chain professionals

Public Health Emergencies of International Concern

  • Foster and refine emergency alert systems and risk communication capabilities
  • Build on existing response networks and promote establishment of and linkage among Emergency Operations Centers to enhance real-time communication and coordination during public health emergencies
  • Establish and train multi-sectoral rapid response teams with access to near real-time information systems and the capacity to help identify the likely source of a disease outbreak or agent release
  • Improve the availability of public health emergency medical countermeasures by increasing global production capacity, procurement, and stockpiling while taking into account the access and functional needs of at-risk populations
  • Strengthen the infrastructures, policies, and operational frameworks needed to rapidly deploy public health medical countermeasures (MCMs), personnel, and other public health and medical assistance across countries in response to emergencies
  • Educate partner countries about U.S. regulatory standards, Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA), investigational new drugs (IND),  and stockpiling to facilitate the international deployment of MCMs during a public health emergency
  • Focus on the role of scientific research collections to assist with planning or mitigation for zoonotic outbreak
  • The research community can develop rapidly deployable template protocols to better coordinate the effective conduct of scientific investigation and research before, during, and after public health emergencies

  • This page last reviewed: February 13, 2015