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Public Health (07-12-2012)

The European Commission Union committed to contribute to an improved health security framework at international level

Health Ministers from the Global Health Security Initiative met on 7 December 2012 in Berlin to discuss the future priorities to strengthening global health security.

The Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI) is an informal, international partnership between France , Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Mexico, the United States, the European Commission and the World Health Organisation , established in 2001 to strengthen health preparedness and response globally to threats of biological, chemical, radio-nuclear terrorism (CBRN) and pandemic influenza.

The European Commission is committed to strengthen the health security framework and appreciates this strong partnership with the international partners. Since its establishment in 2001, the GHSI partnership has undertaken a broad program of work aimed at strengthening preparedness and response to a range of global health security threats. In particular, the GHSI made important progress on key elements, such as:

(1) the Threat and Risk Assessment Tool, which is a systematic and evidence-based approach for the threat and risk assessment of biological agents.

(2) the Early Alerting and Reporting Project which enters now its operational phase. This platform compiles surveillance and reporting data from media screening and is a tool to notify public health alerts for emerging incidents

(3) capacity-building to strengthen preparedness and response planning in cooperation with the World Health Organisation,

(4) a mechanism to share and deploy medical countermeasures in case of an international public health emergency caused by chemical, biological and radio-nuclear agents,

(5) the exchange of information on “dual-use life sciences research”, i.e. research that might be benefitial for innovation in new treatments, but could also be misused for illegitimate intentions and applications. The Commission is committed to coordinating this issue at European level and welcomes the international consultation.

Complementary to the work in the context of the Global Health Security Initiative the European Commission is currently cooperating with the European Parliament and the Council to strengthen the health security framework in Europe. Comprehensive legislation is in place for communicable diseases; by proposing legislation on serious cross border threats the Commission intends to ensure a similar good protection to European citizens against other serious cross-border health threats caused by chemical or environmental events.