WASHINGTON - To make the world safer against future infectious disease threats, national health systems should be strengthened, the World Health Organization's emergency and outbreak response activities should be consolidated and bolstered, and research and development should be enhanced, says a new Policy Forum article that appears in the May 19 edition of PLOS Medicine.
The 11 authors of the piece are involved in four global commissions that reflected on the recent Ebola virus epidemic response -- including Victor J. Dzau, president of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine (NAM), which convened the Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework for the Future (CGHRF). Five CGHRF commissioners served as authors on the piece: Lawrence O. Gostin from Georgetown University in Washington; Oyewale Tomori from the Nigerian Academy of Science in Lagos; Suwit Wibulpolprasert from the Ministry of Public Health in Thailand; Julio Frenk from the University of Miami; and Gabriel M. Leung from the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine at The University of Hong Kong. The remaining five authors represent three other global commissions: WHO Ebola Interim Assessment Panel; Harvard University and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine's Independent Panel on the Global Response to Ebola; and the United Nations' High-Level Panel on the Global Response to Health Crises.
The Policy Forum piece focuses on reforming national health systems, global governance, and research and development. Specifically, it emphasizes that "system-wide accountability is vital to effectively prevent, detect, and respond to future global health emergencies" and that "global health leaders - e.g., United Nations, World Health Assembly, G-7, and G-20 - should maintain continuous oversight of global health preparedness and ensure effective implementation of the Ebola commissions' key recommendations, including sustainable and scalable financing."
"Each of the four international commissions that examined the Ebola response concluded that pandemics are a threat to global security and economic stability and recommended important changes in global health governance, financing, and research and development strategies," Dzau said. "The commissions' reports should serve as a tool to help drive agendas of the World Health Assembly and the G-7 summit, and global leaders should continue to prepare for the next infectious disease threat."
In a report released in January, the CGHRF estimated that the global expected economic loss from potential pandemics could average more than $60 billion per year. Yet, nations devote a fraction of the resources to preparing, preventing, or responding infectious disease crises as they do to strengthening national security or avoiding financial crises. To strengthen global preparedness against infectious disease threats, CGHRF recommended an investment of approximately $4.5 billion per year - which equates to 65 cents per person.
The Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework for the Future - comprising 17 members from different countries and various areas of expertise - is funded by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Ford Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Ming Wai Lau, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, United States Agency for International Development, and Wellcome Trust. The report is a product of the independent CGHRF and the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, which provided expertise and project management as secretariat for the study. CGHRF's process was guided by an International Oversight Group, which determined the scope of the study, addressed conflict-of-interest concerns, and informed the peer-review process. Electronic copies of the report -- The Neglected Dimension of Global Security: A Framework to Counter Infectious Disease Crises -- are available at http://nam.
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