Global Health Security Agenda - GHSA: health is security Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) is a cooperative forum intended to support the work of international organisations and more than 40 countries to transcend borders in the fight against biological and health threats. The scope of operation for the GHSA is restricted to infectious diseases. In Finland the five-year programme on health security is coordinated by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

Finland is a member of the GHSA steering group and served as the lead country in 2015. The programme was instigated by the USA in 2014. Finland has been involved in the programme from the start.

Infectious diseases do not comply with national borders. It is precisely for this reason that measures to combat and proactively prevent such diseases are absolutely necessary, both nationally and internationally. Moreover, comprehensive cooperation is required in order to act and react quickly to neutralise bio-threats on a global scale.

In addition to individual countries, participants in this partnership include the European Union, the World Health Organization WHO, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation FAO and the World Organisation for Animal Health OIE.

Aiming to develop health services

The GHSA programme supports the implementation and enforcement of the WHO's international health legislation. The main aims of the programme are to develop health systems and services in order to combat threats to health such as those posed by various infectious diseases.

The best method of preventing epidemics such as the Ebola virus in Western Africa is to strengthen and consolidate health and welfare systems and services globally. Broad-based and close inter-governmental cooperation is emphasised within the GHSA programme.

Besides the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior take part in the programme in Finland.

The Finnish National Action Plan

As part of its involvement in the GHSA programme, Finland has made a commitment to improve bio-security and increase the laboratory capacity in Tanzania. Finland will also assist in the training of local veterinary experts there.

This project is funded by the Ministry for Foreign affairs, with the Centre for Military Medicine (SOTLK) and the Centre of Expertise for Biological Threats (BUOS) taking responsibility for project delivery.

Country assesments as tool

The steering group has created a method which can independently assess the health security of each country, as well as offer help in pointing out the measures necessary for improving health security. Evaluations can be used to strengthen the countries' own efforts in the detection, prevention and control of communicable diseases and biological threats.

The evaluation process was tested in five countries at the beginning of the year. The results of the experiment are encouraging: the evaluation supports countries especially in the implementation of the WHO International Health Regulations and it also emphasizes cross-sector collaboration.

Further information