Let’s start this newsletter edition with a warm welcome to our newest GHSA member, The Gambia, to our GHSA community.
It has now been three months that Thailand has served as the Chair of the devoted and friendly GHSA Steering Group. We are putting forth our best efforts to increase the visibility of GHSA’s global contributions.
The newly endorsed tool “the Commitment Tracker” is one tool that will be implemented this year for all of us to move forward in solidarity to achieve the ultimate goal and targets of the GHSA 2024 Framework.
To increase GHSA visibility, GHSA Thailand recently participated in the Consultative Meeting on Joint External Evaluations (JEE) and State Party Self-Assessment Annual Report (SPAR) to incorporate the lessons learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic, from 9 to 10 March 2021.
Thailand highlighted five points to strengthen preparedness for and response to public health emergencies and pandemics. These include 1) a need to identify knowledge gaps and good practices from COVID-19 pandemic responses through relevant health security assessments as announced in the Chair’s Declaration of the 6th GHSA Ministerial Meeting, 2) bridging the gaps of IHR core capacity implementation through the Joint External Evaluation (JEE), IHR (2005) Monitoring Framework and SPAR, 3) non-pharmaceutical measures using quarantine and contact tracing capacities by engaging public and private sectors need to be in the new IHR core capacities assessment, 4) the health sector cannot effectively implement quarantine and contact tracing without utilization of the whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches, and 5) concerted efforts in achieving the GHSA 2024 Target, aiming at better preparedness and response, are key in strengthening existing tools and serving as a roadmap for better implementation in the future. Thailand also recognizes the important intervention made on behalf of the Sustainable Financing for Preparedness GHSA Action Package during the consultative meeting.
Over the recent months, many GHSA member countries have been able to launch their COVID-19 vaccination programs, we are thus optimistic that the situation will gradually improve. Let us extend our hopes and efforts to end the pandemic in a short period of time. Stay safe everyone!
On January 27-28, 2021, the first Steering Group of 2021 was hosted virtually by Thailand
Each year, the Chair of the GHSA Steering Group is responsible for planning and leading three Steering Group Meetings. Due to the ongoing global COVID-19 situation and travel restrictions, the Steering Group Meeting was held virtually. Currently, the GHSA Steering Group consists of its five-year Permanent Members: Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Korea, Senegal, Thailand, United States, the Global Health Security Agenda Consortium (GHSAC), the Private Sector Round Table (PSRT), its two-year Rotating Members: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the World Bank and the Permanent Advisors: the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). All Steering Group Members were in attendance for the meeting.
The January Steering Group Meeting reviewed the efforts of GHSA in 2020 and then discussed priorities for 2021 and beyond. Key points from the November 2020 Ministerial Meeting were raised, and the Chair’s Declaration was highlighted as a guide of 2021 actions. An updated version of the GHSA Strategic Communications Plan was introduced for discussion and the online Commitment Tracker tool was endorsed by the Steering Group to showcase global health security commitments made by GHSA members.
There were further discussions on GHSA leadership in 2022 (including the future Chair and Steering Group Members). New GHSA membership applications were discussed along with a plan called ‘Friends for Friends” to conduct outreach to potential, new GHSA members. Presentations were also given by the Secretariat, the Action Package Coordination Task Force, and by GHTC for a proposal for a new Action Package. The Steering Group also looked towards global health security events and forums in 2021 that present opportunities to increase the visibility of GHSA.
The next Steering Group Meeting will be held in early-mid 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected more than 200 countries and the world is racing to fight the pandemic. The Intra Action Review (IAR) was developed by WHO to guide countries to conduct periodic review(s) of their national and subnational COVID-19 responses, so countries do not miss critical opportunities for learning and improvement to better respond to the COVID-19 outbreak in their countries. The IAR is a country-led facilitated process conducted during the COVID-19 outbreak in-country. WHO will help countries that have not conducted the IAR and have developed a free two-hour online course on the Management and Facilitation of a Country COVID-19 Intra-Action Review (IAR) on the OpenWHO platform. This course provides a general introduction to the management and the facilitation of an IAR during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic through presentations, quizzes and a final assessment at the end of the course to test the knowledge acquired, with the opportunity to earn a Record of Achievement certificate. This course targets any individuals or entities involved in the preparedness of and response to the COVID-19 outbreak at the national or subnational levels, including but not limited to government officials, WHO staff, public health professionals, communities and partners.
Here is a 3-minute video, featured on the course landing page that rapidly explains the purpose and conduct of an IAR:
For further information, you can see highlights from Thailand’s IAR, including links to the video and full report and summary:
Stories of Best Practices – Multisectoral Coordination
From the 6th GHSA Ministerial Meeting in November 2020, several countries submitted national remarks delivered by ministers or representatives on the topic of the importance of multisectoral collaboration in the context of global health security. These videos were shown online via the virtual platform during the meeting.
Here are some highlights and key messages from the country remarks:
- Australia is committed to support many programs to improve surveillance, AMR, laboratory Systems, workforce, and immunization coverage.
- Australia also recently announced financial contributions especially for equitable COVID-19 vaccine access in developing countries.
- Finland highlighted the importance of multilateralism across countries, cross-sectoral coordination within governments, and partnerships with civil society and private partners.
- Finland stated that political leadership, commitment, legislative framework, well-functioning structures for governance and cooperation are essential
- Indonesia emphasized that a silo approach cannot solve the health security challenges we face.
- Indonesia credited their national economic recovery committee and national COVID-19 Task Force in tackling COVID-19 as well as the importance of the sub-national response down to neighborhood level coordination in their COVID-19 response.
Lao People’s Democratic Republic:
- The Lao People’s Democratic Republic recognized the importance of broader effects on families, societies, and economies impacted by the pandemic and by the measures
- Laos referred to their recent Intra-Action-Review of COVID-19 and how it affirmed the benefits of past efforts of working across sectors.
- The Philippines drew upon their experience from the pandemic to recognize the importance of the economic, social and security sectors’ roles in recovery
- A multisector approach is needed as they are working with research and development institutions, financial institutions, and trade and industry partners to ensure equitable access for treatment and vaccines
- The Philippines also recognizes the key role of international, multilateral counterparts
- Singapore formed a multi-ministerial Task Force to mobilize resources with ministerial representation from sectors including manpower, education, transportation, communication, environment, economic, and social, all working together
- When faced with challenges during the COVID-19 outbreak, the government collaborated successfully with the private sector
- The Ministry of Public Health learned from previous experiences with Avian Influenza and MERS cases to work closely with the animal sector, airport authorities, and immigration.
- The groundwork for local level health investment was already laid down along as the government gave strong support for UHC, all of which require strong financial support through multisectoral coordination
- Turkey benefitted from its experiences in health emergency preparedness before the pandemic was declared, such as review of health infrastructure
- Turkey emphasized the opportunity to review the International Health Regulations in light of experiences and lessons learned amid the COVID pandemic
- Vietnam highlighted their active role in the Zoonotic Disease GHSA Action Package and as an advocate for the One Health approach
- Vietnam credited the importance of strong leadership, multisectoral collaboration, and the Whole-of-Society approach in its effective COVID-19 response
The United Kingdom:
- As a strong advocate for One Health and the multisectoral approach, the United Kingdom stated that it is important to also continue our efforts and attention on health security issues likeantimicrobial resistance
- Regarding its pandemic response, the United Kingdom coordinated health, education, military, academia, international organizations and the private sector to prioritize education, carry out mass testing, and accelerate progress with vaccines.
For the full videos, please visit the 6th GHSA Ministerial Meeting webpage
GHSA warmly welcome The Gambia officially as the newest member of the GHSA. GHSA aims to increase its membership with new countries and other organizations who will be proactive members and demonstrate enthusiasm, especially when it comes to improving global health security preparedness capacities. The Gambia is eager to join the Surveillance Action Package and we look forward to your active participants in GHSA to strengthen health security, which will benefit both The Gambia and the world.
the GHSA Secretariat in NIH (Pakistan)
Pakistan has established a formal GHSA Secretariat at National Institute of Health, as per its commitment to GHSA. The Secretariat was inaugurated by Dr. Faisal Sultan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health.
Launching of GHSA Secretariat Pakistan is an important milestone that will serve as a hub for integration of IHR/GHSA activities and implementation of GHSA 2024 framework.