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Cooperation in Combating Global Biohazards

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 5.5.2014 6.34
Press release -

Ministerial Adviser Outi Kuivasniemi, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 2951 63117 Ministerial Adviser Sebastian Hielm, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 295 16 2305 First Secretary Hanna - Leena Korteniemi, Ministry for Foreign Affiars, tel. +358 295 351594 Senior Specialist Tiina Raijas, Ministry of Defence, tel. +358 295 140318

Infectious diseases and their prevention are discussed in the meeting of the Global Health Security Agenda, a new international partnership for the promotion of health security in Helsinki on 5 to 6 May. This meeting brings together nearly 200 experts from over 20 countries. The event is represented also by the European Union, the World Health Organization, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Organisation for Animal Health OIE.

The point of departure of this Health Partnership relates to the challenges inherent in the international mobility and threats to the health caused by new topical infectious diseases such as MERS coronavirus and avian influenza. Operation of this Partnership supports the implementation of the WHO's International Health Regulations, and in Finland, along with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the project is joined by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defence.

This new five-year Health Partnership was launched on the initiative of the United States in February 2014. The Partnership network shares information, provides support and helps to bring out the best practices to prevent and combat international threats to health. Combating global biohazards requires a comprehensive cooperation between the different actors.

The Health Partnership is based on a broad, cross-sectoral approach, which is knownto be Finland's international strength. Finland also has extensive experience in multi-sectoral cooperation to combat the outbreaks of communicable diseases. One example of this is the centre of expertise in biological threats BUOS run jointly by the Finnish Defence Forces and the National Institute for Health and Welfare. The centre operates as a national expert organization for biological threat prevention and preparedness and is actively involved in international cooperation.

Similarly, the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira and the co-operation body Zoonoosikeskus of the National Institute for Health and Welfare collaborate extensively on a national basis in the fight against biological threats. Three-quarters of communicable diseases are infections transmissible from animals to humans, i.e. zoonoses. In Finland, the body trusted with the monitoring and control of these is Zoonoosikeskus. Increasing antibiotic resistance to pathogens, which threatens to make many of the currently used antibiotics ineffective, is also included in zoonoses. This is a serious health threat that can be controlled by regulating the use of antibiotics in both human and veterinary medicine.

Finland stresses the importance of international cooperation, open communication, and the role played by the World Health Organization and the UN system. The Health Partnership aims to promote cooperation and exchange of information in this area of health security.

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