U.S. Reps. Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) introduced legislation Thursday that seeks to reaffirm U.S. commitment to promoting global health security.
The Global Health Security Act would codify how the United States prepares for and responds to public health threats. Typically, U.S. global health security staffing and activities are reliant on an executive order and not explicitly supported in law. Further, it bolsters U.S. commitments under the Global Health Security Agenda, which is a multilateral initiative to build countries’ capacity to manage infectious disease threats and elevate health security as a global priority.
“Deploying the tools to prevent diseases like Zika and Ebola from reaching America is a vital component of protecting our nation,” said Chabot, senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and chairman of the House Committee on Small Business. “I am pleased to work with Congressman Connolly to introduce this legislation to provide Congressional authorization and oversight for the Administration’s efforts to advance global health security. I look forward to working with him, the Trump Administration and other stakeholders to strengthen and pass this legislation early in the 116th Congress.”
This bipartisan bill would appoint a permanent official responsible for coordinating the interagency response to a global health security emergency. It is cosponsored by Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Ami Bera (D-CA), and Ann Wagner (R-MO).
“Saving lives from the next global pandemic starts with investing in preparedness before it strikes,” Connolly, senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said. “As we’ve seen time and time again, diseases do not respect borders, and global health crises have immense security, economic, and humanitarian consequences. Our legislation recognizes the critical role of U.S. leadership in international health security, enshrines U.S. global health security policy in statute, and ensures that there is a permanent designated official responsible for coordinating these efforts in a strategic way.”
Ron Klain, former Ebola czar under the Obama Administration, said the bill offers much needed improvements in the way the country prepares for and responds to epidemics. It is endorsed by the Global Health Council, IntraHealth International, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, and PATH.
“The Global Health Security Act strengthens the way the US works to protect, detect, and respond to major international epidemics,” Tom Inglesby, president and CEO of JHU Center for Health Security, said. “It would help to codify the GHSA, bring coordination to the relevant programs across agencies, and clarify responsibility for leadership of the effort. It builds on the early successes of the GHSA.”