The Division of International Heath Security (DIHS) leads the U.S. engagement with the Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI), a partnership with Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Commission (EC). The World Health Organization (WHO) serves as a technical advisor.
Since its inception in 2001, GHSI members have worked on strengthening capacities and decision-making guidelines to address CBRN threats and emerging infectious diseases with pandemic potential. Based on the collective experience of GHSI members during our collective responses to H1N1, Fukushima, Ebola, MERS-CoV, and Zika, GHSI has developed critical tools to aid national and international response coordination. Examples of these tools include:
- An all-hazard GHSI event management response framework and toolkit to assist decision makers during a public health event
- Protocols for 24/7 emergency communications and tools for rapid information sharing
- An IT platform for tracking open-source information for early alerting and reporting of public health events
- Threat and risk assessment tool – for biological and chemical agents
- Chemical and radiological emergency response protocols with guiding principles and research needs related to mass casualty decontamination
- Operational Frameworks for:
- International medical countermeasures deployment
- International sample sharing and standard material transfer agreements, an early version of this was used to share Zika samples enabling validation of diagnostic and blood screening tests
The HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response 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 both the Radio-Nuclear Threats and the Pandemic Influenza Working Groups. Additionally, DIHS serves as the Chair of the Medical Countermeasures (MCM) Task Force and the co-Chair for the Threat and Risk Assessment Task Force. DIHS is the U.S. representative and a major contributor to the Sample Sharing Task Group.
A ministerial-level meeting
is held annually to discuss top priorities in health security and ministers share their commitments through annual communiques
. GHSI brings together senior officials (vice-minister/assistant-secretary level) from each delegation to ensure that ministerial plans and objectives are translated into concrete actions. The GHSI Secretariat, managed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, is responsible for meeting planning and coordination. A group of delegation liaisons and chairs of the working groups are charged with integrating GHSI priorities. The five technical/scientific level working groups are responsible for carrying out actions laid out in the initiative’s strategic work plan.
GHSI Organizational Structure