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Global Public Health Threats

8. Conclusion: strengthening global health security

  • 8.1 What strategy would strengthen global health security?
  • 8.2 What specific steps would improve global health security?

8.1 What strategy would strengthen global health security?

With rare exceptions, threats to public health are generally known and manageable. Some public health emergencies, however, such as outbreaks of AIDS, dengue and other infectious diseases, could have been prevented or better controlled if the health systems concerned had been stronger and better prepared.

Global public health security depends on all countries being well-equipped to detect, investigate, communicate and contain events that threaten public health security whenever and wherever they occur. However, some countries, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia, are struggling to provide even basic health security to their populations because they lack resources, or because their health infrastructure has collapsed as a consequence of under-investment, shortages of trained health workers, conflicts and wars, or a previous natural disaster. These constraints pose significant challenges to all countries, WHO, and its partners in global public health security.

No single country – however capable, wealthy or technologically advanced – can alone prevent, detect and respond to all public health threats. Global cooperation, collaboration and investment are necessary to ensure a safer future. This involves not only cooperation between different countries but also between different sectors of society such as governments, industry, public and private financiers, academia, international organizations and civil society, all of whom have responsibilities for building a global public health security.

This text is a summary of: WHO, World Health Report 2007 – A safer future: global public health security in the 21st century (2007),
Chapter 5: Towards a safer future, "Managing the risks and consequences of the international spread of polio", p.57-65 

8.2 What specific steps would improve global health security?

To make global public health security possible, the WHO makes the following recommendations:

  1. Full implementation of the 2005 International Health Regulations by all countries.
  2. Global cooperation in surveillance and outbreak alert and response between governments, United Nations agencies, and all stakeholders.
  3. Open sharing of knowledge, technologies and materials, including viruses and other laboratory samples, necessary to optimize secure global public health.
  4. Countries need to strengthen their own systems so that they can predict and respond to any emerging dangers. In addition, nations need to help improve the public health infrastructure of all countries.
  5. Cross-sector collaboration within governments. The protection of global public health security is dependent on trust and collaboration between sectors such as health, agriculture, trade and tourism.
  6. Increased global and national resources for the training of public health personnel, the advancement of surveillance, the building and enhancing of laboratory capacity, the support of response networks, and the continuation and progression of prevention campaigns.

This text is a summary of: WHO, World Health Report 2007 – A safer future: global public health security in the 21st century (2007),
Conclusions & Recommendations, p.66-67 


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