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Tuesday, May 21st, 2024

HHS officials reaffirm support for Global Health Security Agenda

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Officials from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department attended the Fifth Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) Ministerial Meeting in Indonesia this week to reaffirm U.S. support for the initiative and commit additional funding.  

GHSA, which launched in 2014, is a worldwide effort to combat infectious disease threats and elevate global health security as a worldwide priority. At this week’s meeting in Indonesia, GHSA launched a new five-year plan called GHSA 2024, which seeks to guide countries in evaluating health security risks and addressing gaps.  

The U.S. delegation was led by HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan, who reaffirmed U.S. support for GHSA and underscored the goal to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious diseases. He pledged to commit another $150 million to the GHSA to achieve the goals in its five-year plan.

“The United States is ready and eager to do its part, by working hard domestically to be one of the 100-plus countries to help achieve the GHSA 2024 target,” Hargan said. “But further, I am pleased to announce today that the United States will commit an additional $150 million to support capacity strengthening in high-risk countries around the world.”

Hargan said the United States is committed to collaborating across borders to strengthen the capacities to prevent outbreaks and other public health emergencies.

“The United States supports GHSA 2024 at the highest levels of our government—from President Trump to his department and agency leaders, like Secretary Azar, to our scientific experts and on-the-ground staff around the world,” Hargan said. “We also have significant interest and participation from the private sector, which should be seen as an indispensable player in global health security. The GHSA 2024 target is achievable so long as we have strong commitments and actions from the countries, multilateral organizations, and non-governmental stakeholders represented here today.”

Additionally, HHS Secretary Alex Azar delivered a video message to the delegation at the GHSA meeting, praising the organization for what its achieved so far and focusing on the work that remains.

“To keep our people safe, we must strengthen our capacity to prevent, detect and respond to infectious diseases,” Azar said. “As the continuing Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo reminds us, it is vital that we all work together to support countries struggling to combat these frightening threats.”

Azar discussed the need for a “culture of preparedness” to combat these threats.

“As we launch GHSA 2024, we need to determine how, over the next five years, we can build a culture of preparedness in each of our nations, where strengthening and maintaining health security capacities becomes a core health investment by every country,” Azar said. “Whether health threats are naturally occurring, accidental, deliberate, or, as in the case of the DRC, complicated by armed conflict, we must face up to these challenges and work together to overcome them.”

After the GHSA Ministerial Meeting, Hargan traveled to Thailand to visit the CDC Bamrasnaradura Infectious Disease Institute laboratories and Bumrungrad Hospital. He also met with his Thai counterparts as well as CDC staff in the country to address global health security concerns such as influenza, malaria, dengue, and tuberculosis. From there, Hargan traveled to Laos to meet with the Ministry of Health to discuss ways to combat emerging and re-emerging disease threats.