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Global Health Security Agenda to take shape during the Finnish chairmanship

25.1.2015 9.14
News item N5-65651

Communicable diseases and various epidemics such as bird flu and Ebola do not recognise national borders. At worst, serious epidemics can threaten entire societies, and they also affect global security and the economy. Communicable diseases and biological threats take centre stage in the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). From the outset Finland has been actively involved in the programme, whose goal is to strengthen the ability of countries to prepare for and respond to communicable diseases and biothreats that have emerged naturally or by accident, or which have spread deliberately.

Finland holds the chairmanship of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) in 2015. Taking part in the cross-administrative programme are the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of the Interior.

"As the chair, Finland wants to raise the importance of preparing for threats to health. This is best achieved by strengthening primary health care and the preparedness systems", says Päivi Sillanaukee, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health at the first meeting of the steering group in Geneva.

Another aim during the Finnish chairmanship will be to enhance collaboration between the GHSA partners and international financial institutions for the funding of different kinds of projects. In addition to this Finland promotes collaboration with non-governmental organizations. The five-year programme supports the implementation of standards that have been agreed upon internationally, such as the WHO International Health Regulations.

"A total of 196 countries have approved the International Health Regulations already in 2005 and committed to implementing them, but only a fifth have done so at present. The Health Regulations are very challenging for many countries, which is why through the Health Security Agenda we aim to advance toward the goals step by step", Sillanaukee says.

The GHSA programme focuses strongly on concrete action. The programme comprises of 11 concrete action packages, such as curbing antimicrobial resistance, improving biosecurity, and building laboratory capacity. Countries taking part in the programme have been able to commit to these, either for the development of their own health security or to support some other country. Finland is committed, among other things, to the development of field laboratories in Tanzania, and to training of their personnel. 

The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), which promotes health security on a global scale, was launched in February 2014 at the initiative of the United States. More than 40 countries are currently participating in the agenda together with key international organizations, such as the World Health Organization WHO, the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization FAO, the World Organization for Animal Health OIE, the World Bank, the European Union, and Interpol.

Further information:

Ministerial Counsellor for International Affairs Outi Kuivasniemi +358 2951 63117

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