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HOME > MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS > LONDON - MARCH 2002
Ministerial Statements London - March 2002
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HEALTH MINISTERS CONTINUE COLLABORATION TO IMPROVE HEALTH SECURITY GLOBALLY

  1. We, the Health Ministers/Secretaries/Commissioner, are determined to improve health security globally, and to better prepare for and respond to acts of biological, chemical and radio-nuclear terrorism. This meeting builds on the international partnership we agreed to forge at our November 7, 2001 meeting in Ottawa, Canada.


  2. International cooperation remains essential to the improvement of the health security of our citizens. Both individually and collectively, we have already taken concrete actions to enhance our respective capacities to deal with the threat of international biological, chemical and radio-nuclear incidents. We remain firm in our resolve and commitment to continue working together, and to coordinate our efforts in the interest of the health and security of our citizens, and to enhance our respective capacities to deal with public health incidents.


  3. Today, we agreed to move forward on a number of fronts to further strengthen health security globally. Our current progress and future actions are as follows:


    • We fully endorse the World Health Organization Executive Board's resolution adopted in January, 2002 on the deliberate use of biological and chemical agents, and radio-nuclear attacks. This resolution "urges member states to share expertise, supplies, and resources in order to rapidly contain the event and mitigate its effects". Efforts will be undertaken to urge all countries to adopt the resolution at the World Health Assembly, May 13-18, 2002.


    • Ministers have agreed that an exercise will be held which will test and build on current response plans and protocols for international assistance and collaboration. The United Kingdom has offered to host a meeting on modeling, one output of which will be to provide a basis for planning the exercise. Canada will draw together a steering committee to plan this exercise.


    • Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the World Health Organization strategy on search and containment as a strategy for smallpox outbreak control. Ministers welcomed and encouraged the World Health Organization's offer to host a meeting to discuss issues related to the international health regulations in the event of a smallpox outbreak.


    • We endorsed a process to develop a framework for risk communication of CBRN terrorist incidents, in particular the development of an "incident scale". The United Kingdom has offered to convene and carry forward future joint working on risk and in particular the "incident scale". We have asked the Global Health Security Action Group to validate the framework against chemical, radio-nuclear and biological incidents, and to assess how this can complement current international arrangements in place.


    • We encouraged the exchange of information emerging from important research conferences and similar events in the area of biological, chemical and radio-nuclear terrorism in order that our respective researchers can more readily learn from others and make contact with other key researchers in this field. We also encourage efforts to collaborate and fund joint research initiatives, as appropriate, that will be in the interest of global health and security.


    • We have shared lessons learned on emergency preparedness and response plans, points of contacts have been established and joint training and planning sessions will be delivered. The United States will host, in collaboration with the WHO, a training the trainer session on smallpox outbreak containment.


    • We also intend to share plans on preparedness and response to chemical events and Japan will look at the possibility of hosting a meeting of laboratory directors and experts.


    • A meeting of Directors of high level laboratories was held in Lyon, France on March 12, 2002 which will lead to improved linkages among the laboratories in our countries and, therefore, our response to biological threats. This meeting will be followed by a meeting in Canada to seek common agreement on standards and cooperation among laboratories in participating countries, as appropriate, as well as assistance to other countries.


    • France and the WHO will organize a meeting on approaches and best practices in providing assistance to other countries with regards to health security and public health emergencies.


    • Germany will host in collaboration with the WHO and the EU, a meeting to review and define or redefine best practices in vaccine production for smallpox and other potential pathogens.


    • Italy is considering to host next year a meeting to discuss best strategies in isolation techniques for patients with smallpox and highly contagious viral infections.


    • All member countries, as well as WHO, the Pan American Health Organisation and the European Commission are now linked, or in the process of being linked, to the European Enter-net programme to ensure the swift sharing of data from national surveillance systems and information on unusual occurrences that could be potential public health threats, including information related to such threats on contamination of food and water supply chains.


    • We intend to further support the WHO's global public health surveillance and response, including public health events of international importance by:


      • providing support for existing networks and WHO coordinating response;
      • helping WHO to strengthen coordination activities to support national laboratory work; and,
      • considering seconding technical experts and technical and/or financial assistance.

  4. We will engage with other countries on specific issues and make the most of any opportunity to share information on our efforts, such as at the meeting of the World Health Assembly in May 2002.


  5. We remain committed to working together to strengthen our readiness and response to protect public health and security. We agreed to meet again in Mexico to take stock of where we are and to consider what further actions may be appropriate. Germany has offered to host the next meeting held in Europe.

The statement was endorsed by:

  • The Honourable Anne McLellan, Minister of Health, Canada
  • Mr. David Byrne, Commissioner of Health and Consumer Protection, European Union
  • Mr. Norihisa Tamura, Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan
  • L'honorable Bernard Kouchner, Ministre Délégué à la Santé, France
  • The Honourable Julio Frenk, Minister of Health, Mexico, represented by Dr Roberto Tapia-Conyer, Vice-Minister for Health, Prevention and Protection
  • The Right Honourable John Hutton, Minister of State for Health, United Kingdom
  • The Honourable Ulla Schmidt, Federal Minister for Health, represented by Dr. Klaus Theo Schroder, Secretary of State, Federal Ministry of Health, Germany
  • Professor Girolamo Sirchia, Minister of Health, Italy (in absentia)
  • The Honourable Tommy G. Thompson, State Secretary for Health, represented by The Honourable Claude Allen, Deputy Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services, United States


1. Ministers, Secretaries and senior officials from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom, the United States as well as the Commissioner of Health and Consumer Protection, European Union met on March 14, 2002 in London to strengthen their coordinated response to improve health security. Officials from the World Health Organization were also observers.

2. In November 2001 we recognized the urgent need to establish networks, linkages and early collaboration, and to constitute a network of rapid communication/response in case of crisis. With Canada serving as the Secretariat for our international effort, we have established a Global Health Security Action Group of experts and officials who have met three times to develop action plans. This Group will continue its work of examining health security issues and implementing concrete actions. We now have in place an internet-based Global Health Security Network that supports the sharing of best practices and information and collaboration among our experts and officials.

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