Global Health Security Initiative
Global Health Security Initiative
Ministerial Statements
PARIS, FRANCE 9 December, 2011


We Ministers/ Secretaries/Commissioner of Health from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Commission gathered today in Paris to commemorate the 10th anniversary of our partnership and to discuss future collaboration in the interest of global health security.

Ministers of Health established this initiative in November 2001, with a call for “concerted global action to strengthen the public health response to the threat of international biological, chemical and radio-nuclear terrorism”.

At today’s Ministerial Meeting, we have recognised again the accomplishments that have been achieved together through this initiative. These accomplishments have led to tangible and significant progress in enhancing our preparedness and response capacities.

Since 2001, the GHSI has worked to strengthen global health security by providing a forum to share best practices and engage in strong scientific collaboration, in support of building an evidence base to serve our collective response to chemical, biological and radio-nuclear (CBRN) threats. The initiative has also reinforced our preparedness and coordination, our timely communication during emergencies and our capacity for collaborative global action. In addition, the GHSI has reached beyond the group’s membership, through cooperation with other international bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO).

Today we reaffirm our commitment to the GHSI and reiterate our common vision for strengthened health security through international cooperation. While our collaborative efforts in response to CBRN terrorism are as relevant today as ten years ago, we remain responsive to the evolving health security landscape and will continue to identify priorities to address current and emerging challenges.

In addition, we recognise the need to review regularly the partnership’s strengths and opportunities for future action, and to ensure that activities and operations continue to be aligned with our common vision. Moving forward, we will continue to ensure that the GHSI remains effective and pertinent in strengthening our collective CBRN preparedness and response.

Strengthening and Sustaining Global Health Security

  • We thank Japan for the update on the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima nuclear power station. We extend our heartfelt support to Japan as it continues to demonstrate vigilance in the management of the accident, and in addressing any acute and longer-term impacts on the country’s population. We appreciate the timely sharing information, and encourage ongoing sharing of experiences and lessons learned from the emergency and recovery efforts. We are committed to continue to work to inform future health sector planning for radiological and nuclear incidents.

  • We also recognise the extensive efforts of Germany in relation to the significant outbreak of Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) in 2011.We appreciate the timely and substantial information sharing by Germany with its international partners and according to the International Health Regulations (IHR). This experience has underlined the importance of openness and timeliness for the assessment and control of public health threats, as well as a critical element in the implementation of the IHR. We note the evaluation already undertaken by Germany and the intention of the European Commission to share the outcomes of its upcoming evaluation with the GHSI.

  • We thank the Director General of the WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, for her address in support of strengthened global collaboration for health security. We recognise that the global governance of health and health security continues to evolve, and that as Ministers, we are committed to continuing the GHSI’s work in collaboration with the WHO, and together with other UN agencies, regional bodies and through other inter-sectoral partnerships.

  • The development, maintenance and distribution of medical countermeasures remains a key priority for our respective governments, including the need to address operational and regulatory challenges associated with timely and effective international deployment during emergencies. We are committed to identifying best practices, and support the need to work with the WHO and other relevant international organizations in this area.

  • We also considered the growing influence of social media on crisis management and public communications during an international public health emergency, and discussed the benefits and challenges associated with social media in a context of health sector preparedness and response. We acknowledge the need to continue efforts to understand social media’s role with respect to information-sharing, monitoring, surveillance and public engagement.

  • We also noted the important progress made in 2011 by the international community with the establishment of the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework. We encourage all parties involved in the implementation of the framework to continue efforts to ensure that the framework develops as an effective tool for the protection of our collective health security in the event of an influenza pandemic.

  • We also acknowledge the completion of the 2011 North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza, which provides an example of international and cross-sectoral collaboration on the development of coordinated emergency preparedness and response capacities and capabilities for a coordinated response to future outbreaks of animal or human influenza pandemics.

  • Finally, we note the European Commission’s legal proposal on health security, which aims to strengthen both European Union and global preparedness for and response to serious cross-border threats to health.

Ongoing Activities and Future Priorities

As guided by Senior Officials and through the engagement of technical Working Groups, the GHSI’s collaborative efforts in 2011 focussed on both specific risks to health security as well as on strengthening longer-term preparedness for critical chemical, biological and radio-nuclear threats. Consistent with our strategic approach, collective efforts will include the following elements.

  • Ongoing assessment of threat and risks: Ongoing cooperation within the GHSI and together with the security sector has facilitated the further refinement of our common methodology for assessing CBRN agents. As our assessment tools are refined, further collaborative efforts will extend the methodology and seek to improve CBRN all-hazard priority setting.

  • Early alerting and reporting: Our continued implementation of the early alerting and reporting project in 2012 will involve the integration of early alerting with broader GHSI risk management efforts.

  • Strengthened preparedness and response capacity: Based on Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 and other recent experiences, key lessons learned have been reviewed and will inform our preparedness and response capacities and capabilities for CBRN all-hazards planning.

  • Decontamination: Efforts undertaken through our partnership will continue to focus on enhanced technical collaboration in order to develop and share practices for the decontamination of people following a CBRN event.

  • Medical Countermeasures: In collaboration with WHO, we will continue working to identify and address the regulatory, legal and logistical challenges associated with the rapid deployment of medical countermeasures internationally, as a key element of the response to public health emergencies.

  • Laboratory Capacity: Linkages have been made across our high-security biological laboratories, in order to strengthen information exchange and cooperation in areas such as emerging and dangerous pathogens. Efforts to address unknown pathogens will be emphasised, and measures to improve diagnostic capacities and capabilities will be continued.

  • International Health Regulations (IHR) implementation: Given the importance of the implementation of the IHR for global health security, we welcome the opportunity to work with the WHO, in particular by helping build capacity in areas aligned with the GHSI’s mandate. We will continue discussions on the steps that can be taken to achieve this common objective.

  • Risk and Crisis Communications: We have reviewed recent trends and literature with respect to the benefits and challenges related to social media as an emerging public health and risk management tool, and will continue to consider social media in the context of public health preparedness and response.

We welcomed the proposal of Germany to host the next Ministerial Meeting in 2012.

This statement was endorsed by the following
Ministers/Secretaries/Commissioner in attendance:

The Honourable Xavier Bertrand, Minister of Labour, Employment and Health,
and the Honourable Nora Berra, Secretary of State for Health, France
The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, Canada
The Honourable Daniel Bahr, Minister of Health, Germany
The Honourable Renato Balduzzi, Minister of Health, Italy
Dr. Masato Mugitani, Assistant Minister for Global Health, on behalf of the
Honourable Yoko Komiyama, Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare, Japan
The Honourable Salomon Chertorivski, Secretary of Health, Mexico
Ms. Anne Milton, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health, United Kingdom
The Honourable Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, United States of America
Mr. John Dalli, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, European Commission