Message from the Chair, Italy

Greetings from Italy!

This is the first Newsletter of the year 2022 and the first that is written by Italy as a Chair of the GHSA Steering Group. Yet the activity for 2022 has already started with a good pace.

The first Steering Group meeting of the year has been held last 8 March. Two Task Forces, the Action Packages Coordination TF and the Accountability and Results TF, updated the Steering Group Members on the ongoing activities in GHSA. In addition, there was a lively discussion on the Future of GHSA with several good proposals on the next steps and the Tripartite (WHO, FAO and OIE) provided an update on some of the many activities they are conducting.

We are pleased to welcome the Africa CDC and El Salvador as the newest GHSA members. We would like to stress that the Africa CDC is already serving as the co-lead of the Biosafety and Biosecurity AP.

The COVID-19 pandemic has a slowdown, yet its effects are still impacting us all. In spite of that, GHSA is capable to maintain all the high quality activities. This is true thanks to the work and the commitment of all the people involved in GHSA. In this newsletter you will find detailed updates from the Secretariat and different Task Forces and Action Packages, yet we would like to emphasize one of the many activities: the GLOW webinar series. The webinars are a GHSA collective endeavor, as they involve the Action Packages and different Task Forces, they are really useful to inform the whole of GHSA of the work that is done, they help in increasing the network and fostering collaboration. This fits perfectly with the One Health approach that GHSA strives to maintain.

Considering the important decisions that lie ahead of us, according to the GHSA 2024 Roadmap, Italy as Chair of the Steering Group is working hard to put every Member of GHSA in the best position to decide. Yet we shall not forget the present. The reason we had in mind when we decided to hear the Task Forces is to understand what we already accomplished together; this will allow us to properly evaluate the past, look at where we are now, understand our next steps and to make plans for the future. We have to decide about next five years Roadmap for GHSA without forgetting the current one.

We hope you read further to learn more about GHSA Commitments and Stories of Impact, the next Steering Group and Leadership Meeting, featured profiles on GHSA Action Packages, the newest GHSA member, the newest Action Package, and updates from the Secretariat.

Warm regards,
GHSA Italy

The first GHSA Steering Group Meeting in 2022.

Italy as the GHSA Chair held the 1st GHSA Steering Group meeting 2022 virtually on 8 March 2022. This virtual event brought together not only Steering Group members, but also Task Forces, Action Packages’ leads and relevant Action Packages’ members. The meeting discussed, among others: updates from the the Action Package Coordination Task Force and the Accountability and Results Task Force, discussion about the prolongation of GHSA (the decision on the extension of GHSA after 2023 has to be taken this year according to the 2024 GHSA Roadmap), presentations from the Tripartite organization of WHO, FAO, and OIE, the welcoming session and presentations by the new GHSA Members.

Kick-off Video Conference of the Regional Public Health Laboratory (RPHL) Network

The  Department of Medical Sciences, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand, hosted the first video conference of RPHL Network on 28 February 2022. It was opened by Dr. Supakit Sirilak, Director General, Department of Medical Sciences, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand, and attended virtually by RPHL Network members from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, as well as lab experts of the RPHL Network and representatives of the key networks.

The GHSA D5 Workforce Development Consultative Meeting on Multi-sectoral/Multi-disciplinary Workforce Development at the Sub-national Level

The Division of Epidemiology, Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health Thailand organized the online “GHSA D5 Consultative Meeting on Multi-sectoral/Multi-disciplinary workforce development at the sub-national level” from 12 to 13  January 2022.

The consultative meeting discussed multilateral/multidisciplinary workforce development in surveillance at the sub-national and local levels and the response to major diseases and health hazards in public health. International partners; i.e. World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization, World Organization for Animal Health and Thailand MoPH-U.S. CDC Collaboration presented workforce development concepts. The D5 Workforce Development Action Package members (Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Philippines, Indonesia, United States and Thailand) shared lessons learned across sectors and disciplines for the workforce to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, there were participants from Finland, Uganda, Yemen, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Singapore.

The key messages from the consultative meeting demonstrated that coping with the pandemic needs full cooperation beyond just the health sector, needs a sufficient capable workforce, and requires national political will and sustainable financial support. The COVID–19 pandemic has been a trigger for countries to revisit and/or reorganize national strategic plans on workforce development. Effective capacity development was recommended the following steps: needs assessments, program design, implementation of capacity building programs and monitoring & evaluation. Workforce development should be in line with the International Health Regulations capacity building such as the One Health approach and it requires multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary cooperation at all levels so as to accelerate progress towards a world safe and secure from public health threats and international public health emergencies.

Action Package Coordination Task Force Updates

The Task Force on Action Package Coordination kicked off the new year by hosting the 1st Action Package Coordination Meeting for 2022.  The meeting was held in January, whereby the Task Force welcomed the 2022 GHSA Chair-Italy and the new Action Package leads for 2022:

Anti-Microbial Resistance    –    Lead(s): The Netherlands
Biosafety and Biosecurity     –   Lead(s): Africa CDC, Uganda
Immunization                        –   Lead(s): Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia
Laboratory Systems              –   Lead(s): Thailand, United States
Legal Preparedness              –   Lead(s): United States, Argentina
Surveillance                          –    Lead(s): Georgia, United States
Sustainable Financing           –   Lead(s): United States, Australia
Workforce Development        –   Lead(s): Thailand
Zoonotic Disease                   –  Lead(s): United Kingdom, Indonesia, Senegal, Vietnam               

The Task Force congratulated each of the Action Packages on their achievements thus far and emphasized the importance of goal setting for 2022.  The Action Packages have started drafting their new work-plans for 2022, moving forward some long-term initiatives and introducing new initiatives that contribute to achieving the GHSA 2024 targets.  Action Package leads agreed to collectively work together to move forward the GHSA 2024 targets by hosting joint activities, learning from the experiences of other Action Packages and Task Forces, and actively contributing to advance the work of the Action Packages. 

To engage the Action Packages to move towards the target, the Task Force on Action Package Coordination in collaboration with the Task Force on Advocacy & Communications launched the GHSA Lessons Observed Webinar series (GLOW) in February 2022 with the aim of bringing together the GHSA community’s collective wisdom to address common challenges in global health security and to identify opportunities for partnerships and collaborations.  Each month, a member of the GHSA community—namely a Task Force or Action Package—will host a webinar showcasing a topic that aligns with global health security. 

GHSA Lessons Observed Webinar (GLOW) Series

The Task Force on Action Package Coordination in collaboration with the Task Force on Advocacy & Communications launched the GHSA Lessons Observed Webinar series (GLOW) with the aim of educating and engaging members of the GHSA community to participate in real-time conversations and discussions on global health security.  As part of the GLOW series, all Action Package Working Groups and Task Forces will have the opportunity to host a webinar topic that aligns with their technical expertise and is of importance to the GHSA community.  All members of the GHSA community are invited to actively participate as part of this series.

Welcome New Member:  Africa  CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

Africa CDC has been one of the latest members of the GHSA in 2022 which was officially accepted  during the first  GHSA Steering Group Meeting held on 8 March 2022.   As a GHSA member organization, Africa CDC  has been previously active in the Action Package of Biosafety and Biosecurity, and served as the  co-lead of this Action Package.  Africa CDC was officially launched on 31 January 2017 as a specialized technical institution of the African Union established to support public health initiatives of Member States and strengthen the capacity of their public health institutions to detect, prevent, control and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats.

Welcome New GHSA Member:  El Salvador

El Salvador has been the latest member country of the GHSA in 2022, along with Africa CDC, officially accepted during the first  GHSA Steering Group Meeting held on 8 March 2022.  El Salvador  had expressed its interest in  and commitment to joining multiple Action Packages, including Biosafety and Biosecurity, Immunization, Anti-Microbial Resistance, Surveillance, National Laboratory Systems, Workforce Development, and Zoonotic Disease.

What’s new on the GHSA Website (Update by Pakistan)

To reflect the current developments of the activities in the GHSA community, a number of updates have been made on the GHSA website, which include:

  • Country Commitments from Japan, Uganda, and Republic of Korea.
  • Key information on Legal Preparedness Action Package: Public health emergency legal preparedness is the capability to map, develop, refine, and utilize legal frameworks and to ensure the availability of a trained workforce to enable the implementation of public health capacities and measures.
  • Updated  information on the upcoming events.

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