The March 14 launch of the Foreign Ministry Channel for Health Security comes in the wake of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic – the most devastating pandemic of the last century. More than seven million people lost their lives worldwide; estimates even put the number at 30 million.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted health systems worldwide and contributed to the largest sustained decline in routine childhood vaccination in nearly 30 years. The pandemic impacted all essential health services, from prenatal care to cancer screenings. A recent study in the Lancet found a global decline in life expectancy of 1.3 years between 2019 and 2021 – the first global decline since this measure began tracking in the 1990s.

This disruption extended far beyond health care: the U.S. and global economies lost trillions of dollars in GDP, and many countries faced rampant inflation, skyrocketing debt, or both. All of our nations will feel the aftershocks of COVID-19 for many years to come.

The COVID-19 pandemic has produced three lessons:

  • A risk of disease is a danger everywhere.
  • Pandemics threaten not only health, but also our national and economic security.
  • We need to do much more to prepare for the next pandemic, and we can and must improve preparedness and response through the four Cs: collaboration, coordination, cooperation and communication.

Health issues extend beyond the health sector, and foreign ministries play an important role in preparing for and responding to threats to health security. The Foreign Ministry Channel (FMC) for Global Health Security will serve as a platform for foreign ministries to focus diplomatic attention and action on critical global health security.

The creation of the FMC comes with the recognition that the risk of a future global pandemic is high. A changing climate, growing regional instability leading to mass movements of people, and the rise of misinformation and disinformation – which may be exacerbated by new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) – are increasing the complexity of preventing and responding to the next pandemic further. Addressing these threats requires comprehensive international cooperation, which only foreign ministries can foster, to strengthen our collective health security.

Global health institutions such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund), the Pandemic Fund, the World Health Organization (WHO), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, are also critical to advancing global health security outcomes at scale . Coordinated actions by foreign ministries have been central to its establishment and continued funding over the years. The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), working closely with the Global Fund, has done transformative work to help end HIV/AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

Collective engagement in multilateral dialogues also helps improve global health security. We see this in the negotiations of a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, as well as changes to the International Health Regulations (IHR). The complex, multi-sectoral nature of these negotiations requires cross-sector diplomacy, including ministries of foreign affairs, ministries of health, ministries of finance, and with other stakeholders – including civil society and the private sector – to reach effective agreements.

The establishment of the FMC builds on the success of the COVID-19 pandemic-prioritized Global Action Plan for Enhanced Engagement (GAP) 2022-2023. The aim of the CAP was to pool political will and improve coordination among 35 countries and organizations to end the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen preparedness for future pandemic threats. The CAP focused on concrete goals such as increasing COVID-19 vaccinations, including to vulnerable and hardest-to-reach communities in nearly 80 countries; Support regional diversification of COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing, including mRNA vaccines; Sharing information and best practices on harmful misinformation and disinformation; and ensuring acute, non-vaccine interventions, including supporting CAP partners to implement test-to-treat strategies.

While the CAP was established to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the FMC is intended to be a permanent structure to make global health security a national security and foreign policy priority before a crisis occurs. Working together in this forum will help us work together to prevent the cycle of panic and neglect surrounding health threats. The FMC will support and improve existing response structures rather than duplicating them.

Recognizing that no country can act alone to protect its population from the impact of health security threats, the FMC structure will be practical, inclusive and flexible to address current and future health threats. Participants will build the communication channels to mobilize quickly when health threats arise.

Health security is a foreign policy priority

FMC partners reiterated the importance of increasing health security as a foreign policy priority that requires coordinated action by foreign ministries. Acknowledging the interconnected and compounding drivers of health security, such as climate change, regional instability and mass migration, partners also expressed the need for an integrated, multi-sectoral approach to address key gaps and priorities in global health security.

Strengthening early warning capacities

FMC partners reiterated the importance of enabling and improving capacity building and early warning capabilities across sectors and between countries to prevent, rapidly detect and respond effectively to health threats. The partners emphasized that foreign ministries play a critical role in supporting public health interventions to combat infectious disease threats and in addressing the economic, social, political, environmental and security factors that interact with global health security – also in the context of humanitarian responses or mass population displacements. The foreign ministries emphasized their ability to promote transparency regarding infectious disease threats, international data sharing and progress in the implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR).

FMC partners emphasized the need for timely communication, coordination, collaboration and collaboration to address new and emerging health security threats. Partners proposed processes for improving State Department collaboration to identify health threats early, particularly in areas experiencing governance problems or mass population movements.

Partners also shared best practices in the State Department’s efforts to improve transparency in identifying health security threats consistent with IHR commitments, including promoting biosafety and biosecurity and timely international data sharing. Partners provided feedback to better identify specific locations at high risk for future health emergencies and considered health-related aspects of fragile states, crisis regions and mass movements of people in future FMC meetings.

Combating misinformation and disinformation

The partners reiterated the importance of combating misinformation and disinformation and the crucial role that foreign ministries can play in this area, including in addressing the impact of technological advances and artificial intelligence (AI). Country delegations shared existing and planned efforts to combat health misinformation and disinformation and emphasized efforts to improve evidence-based messaging, including: promoting accurate risk communication and sharing of outbreak and public health information, improving transparency regarding health security capabilities (e.g . Creation). National Health Security Action Plans) and the integration of communication and information resilience strategies into global health security activities.

The partners shared their experiences, particularly with regard to recent experiences in combating misinformation and disinformation related to COVID-19. The partners also discussed the global impacts and trends related to AI and how it relates to mis- and disinformation, highlighting where AI can be both beneficial and harmful in promoting best public health practices. Finally, participants discussed how to coordinate public relations when cases of global health misinformation and disinformation arise.

Continuous commitment

FMC participants identified specific topics of interest to each country and potential outcomes of future FMC meetings. Participants agreed to continue to engage in critical and timely work and to meet again as necessary to improve response and coordination. The FMC partners will meet again in future meetings in the coming months to advance and outline the FMC work program.

The United States welcomes the commitment of FMC partners to work together to strengthen global health security as a priority. The United States, as chairman of the meeting, would like to thank the participants of the launch event, including: Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Morocco, Norway, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain , Sweden, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the European Union.

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected].

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *