Statement by the Chair of Global Health Security Agenda White House Event, September 26, 2014
44 countries announced over 100 new commitments to prevent, detect and respond to biological threats worldwide. President Obama and senior officials from around the world called on nations to act now to achieve enduring global health security capacity in West Africa and around the world.
President of the United States Barack Obama, National Security Advisor Rice, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Monaco, and Secretaries Burwell, Kerry and Hagel met today with Ministers and senior officials from 43 other countries and leading international organizations to make concrete commitments to advance the Global Health Security Agenda. The escalating Ebola epidemic in West Africa highlights the necessity to establish global capacity to prevent, detect and rapidly respond to biological threats of any origin. The group also affirmed the imperative to build, measure and maintain systems—including laboratory networks, workforce training, interoperable systems for disease detection in real time, national biosecurity and biosafety systems, national action plans for combating antibiotic resistant bacteria, and emergency operation centers—so countries can efficiently counter biological threats through an integrated, whole-of-government approach.
The President called upon all countries to make new, concrete commitments to prevent, detect and respond to outbreaks before they become epidemics. He underscored the U.S. commitment to assist at least 30 countries over the next five years to achieve the objectives of the Global Health Security Agenda and outlined key priorities for the Administration on Global Health Security, including ending the Ebola epidemic, combating antibiotic resistant bacteria, improving biosafety and biosecurity on a global basis, and preventing bioterrorism.
Participating Nations: Australia, Azerbaijan, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam, and Yemen.
We launched the Global Health Security Agenda on February 13, 2014 to accelerate our global capacity to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to disease threats like Ebola and other infectious disease outbreaks – before they turn into epidemics. Our vision is clear and urgent: We must accelerate progress towards a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats through our collective capacity to prevent and control outbreaks whenever and wherever they occur.
On September 26, 2014 in Washington, D.C. at the White House, we came together as Ministers and Senior Officials from 44 nations, the Directors General from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), senior leadership from the European Union, the African Union, the United Nations, the World Bank and Interpol – to accelerate the implementation of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and the vision of a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats, whether naturally occurring, deliberate, or accidental.
Today we affirmed:
We stand together with our West Africa partners to end the Ebola epidemic, which underscores the urgency with which we must act to secure the needed capacity around the world to prevent this from happening again.
A biological threat anywhere is a biological threat everywhere, and it is the world’s responsibility to respond as one.
Infectious disease outbreaks are a national security priority. They threaten peace, stability, and the economic prosperity of our world; the consequences of not acting are unfathomable.
We have the tools and the political will to assist nations that are not yet prepared. Today, we made concrete commitments to support other nations to achieve the objectives of the GHSA. We call on all nations to act now to provide needed capacity around the world, including what is needed to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to infectious disease threats across West Africa. This is an urgent need and it includes achieving the core capacities of the International Health Regulations and the Performance of Veterinary Services Pathway.
Ebola will not be the last biological threat we face. Even today, in other parts of the world highly pathogenic avian influenza, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, and drug-resistant bacteria continue to pose serious threats to the health and well-being of all people. The same resolve we are demonstrating in the face of Ebola must be sustained so that robust health systems are in place to enable a more rapid and effective response to the next outbreak, no matter what the source.
Today is the next milestone in our commitment to urgently accelerate progress.
Today, we announced over 100 new commitments to implement 11 Action Packages, including specific targets and indicators that will be used as a basis for making sure that national, regional, and global capacities are developed and maintained over the long-term. These Action Packages, and our commitments to them, will form core work of the GHSA over the next five years.
We also established a GHSA Steering Group, chaired by Finland starting in 2015, with representation from 10 countries around the world, including: Canada, Chile, Finland, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Korea and the United States. We welcome the WHO, FAO, and OIE as permanent advisors to the Steering Group, which will be charged with tracking progress and holding ourselves accountable for achieving the objectives of the GHSA in support of international standards. We welcome advisors from other non-governmental stakeholders to help implement GHSA objectives and evaluate our progress.
We welcome the commitment from the Republic of Korea to hold the next GHSA high level meeting in 2015 to measure our progress and hold ourselves accountable for tangible actions, and we charge this group with achieving measurable gains toward specific targets over the coming months.
All nations share the GHSA responsibility. We call on nations around the world to join us in addressing biological threats as a national priority and accelerating action toward a world safe and secure from all infectious disease threats.