Global Health Security Initiative
Global Health Security Initiative
GHSI Background

Following September 11, 2001, former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson suggested that countries fighting bioterrorism should meet to share information and coordinate their efforts to improve global health security. On November 7, 2001, Canada's Minister of Health hosted the first Ministerial Meeting in Ottawa, Canada to discuss global health security. Attending, in addition to Canada, were Ministers/Secretaries/Commissioner of Health and senior health officials from the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom, the United States and the World Health Organization.

Ministers called for concerted global action to strengthen public health preparedness and response to the threat of international biological, chemical and radio-nuclear terrorism. They agreed to forge a partnership to address issues of protecting public health and security globally, and to work together in the following areas:

  1. To explore joint cooperation in procuring vaccines and antibiotics.
  2. To engage in a constructive dialogue regarding the development of rapid testing, research in variations of vaccines, and our respective regulatory frameworks for the development of vaccines, and in particular smallpox vaccines.
  3. To further support the World Health Organization's disease surveillance network and WHO's efforts to develop a coordinated strategy for disease outbreak containment.
  4. To share emergency preparedness and response plans, including contact lists, and consider joint training and planning.
  5. To agree on a process for international collaboration on risk assessment and management and a common language for risk communication.
  6. To improve linkages among laboratories, including level four laboratories, in those countries which have them.
  7. To undertake close cooperation on preparedness and response to radio-nuclear and chemical events.
  8. To share surveillance data from national public health laboratories and information on real or threatened contamination of food and water supplies along with information on risk mitigation strategies to ensure safe food supplies.

The GHSI was envisaged as an informal group to fill a gap for like-minded countries to address health issues of the day, such as global health security. The Initiative was not intended to replace, overlap or duplicate existing fora or networks.

In December 2002 at their Mexico City Ministerial Meeting, Ministers broadened the scope of the GHSI mandate to include the public health threat posed by pandemic influenza.

Since its inaugural meeting in Ottawa (November 2001), the Ministerial Forum has met in London, (March 2002), Mexico City (December 2002), Berlin (November, 2003), Paris (December 2004), Italy (November 2005), Tokyo (December 2006), Washington (November 2007), Brussels (December 2008), London (December 2009), Mexico City (December 2010), Paris (December 2011), Berlin (December 2012), Rome  (December 2013), Tokyo (December 2014) and Washington, D.C. (February 2016). The European Commission will host the 2017 Ministerial Meeting.

A Global Health Security Action Group (GHSAG) of senior officials was established by Ministers to develop and implement concrete actions to improve global health security. It also serves as a network of rapid communication/reaction in the event of a crisis.

Current GHSI Working Groups/Networks are:

  • Risk Management and Communications Working Group
  • Global Laboratory Network Working Group
  • Pandemic Influenza Working Group
  • Chemical Events Working Group
  • Radio-Nuclear Threats Working Group

In addition to the work by these groups, there are projects underway in the following areas:

  • Early alerting and Reporting
  • Research Collaboration
  • Support to the World Health Organization (WHO) in the implementation of the International Health Regulations