Seventeenth Ministerial Meeting of the Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI)

24 February 2017 – Brussels, Belgium

  1. We, Ministers/Secretaries/Commissioner from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Commission, gathered today in Brussels to reflect on emerging health security events, to explore joint actions across sectors to protect our populations, and to strengthen health security globally.
  2. We acknowledge the relevance of meeting in Brussels, a city that suffered a series of terrorist attacks in 2016, and we extend our deepest sympathy to the victims of these attacks. These events have challenged health systems and serve as a reminder of the mandate of the GHSI which calls for concerted global action to strengthen public health preparedness and response to the threat of international chemical, biological or radio- nuclear (CBRN) terrorism.
  3. Today, in view of the increased frequency of terrorism attacks, and building on our shared experience with infectious disease outbreaks, we reinforce our commitment to work collaboratively on global health security. In light of this, we have further committed to strengthening our response capabilities through the newly adopted GHSI Event Management Response Framework. This Framework captures the collective actions of GHSI in response to potential or emerging threats to global health security, including CBRN terrorism, and GHSI commits to reinforcing this Framework’s implementation through regular operational and technical exercises. We reaffirm our support for the GHSI, and further declare our intention to advancing current and emerging priorities in global health security.
  4. We thank Mr. Will Van Gemert, Deputy Director, Operations at Europol, for his presentation on the importance of multi-sectoral collaboration, highlighting the need to strengthen cooperation with the security sector to mitigate the impacts of terrorism attacks. In particular, we recognize that strengthened collaboration with the security sector is critical in reducing this global security threat. We agree to reinforce collaboration and coordination between all relevant sectors to prepare for and respond to the consequences of increasingly complex and multi-faceted health emergencies.
  5. We agree that to reduce threats, especially to mitigate the impact of terrorism attacks, we need to exchange information and best practices and to strengthen technical collaboration with the security sector on a range of health sector preparedness and response measures. As such, we will further advance this health and security interface through a joint technical workshop between the security sector and GHSI health experts early this year.
  6. We thank the Executive Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Programme, Dr. Peter Salama, for his address on health emergency preparedness and response. We see the new WHO Health Emergencies Programme as the cornerstone of global health security which will further strengthen multi-sectoral efforts along with International Health Regulations (IHR) core capacity building and foster inter- agency coordination in public health emergencies through implementation of the procedures for outbreak response. We offer our support and collaboration to the WHO and the Health Emergencies Programme both individually and collectively through the GHSI.
  7. We acknowledge the ongoing technical collaboration between GHSI and the WHO including our ongoing commitment to support the WHO in addressing the legal, regulatory, logistical and communications considerations associated with the rapid international deployment of medical countermeasures during health emergencies. We also note that GHSI has provided support to the WHO in clarifying the triggers that will signal the switch from seasonal influenza vaccine production to pandemic vaccine production in the next global influenza pandemic.
  8. The past year has seen collaborative efforts culminate in a joint commitment by GHSI, the Joint Research Center of the European Commission (JRC), and the WHO to enhance capacity to assess epidemic threats to global health security through the development of an Epidemic Intelligence of Open Source platform. JRC support is fundamental in the creation and technical development of the common platform and related information technology tools. Going forward, the GHSI will work with the WHO to develop concrete options for the management and governance of the common platform as part of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme.
  9. While the WHO’s Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) Framework addresses the sharing of influenza viruses with pandemic potential, it does not cover non-influenza pathogens, such as Zika virus or other new or re-emerging infectious diseases. In response, GHSI developed a voluntary agreement to facilitate the rapid sharing of non-influenza biological materials among GHSI members during a potential or actual public health emergency.
  10. GHSI is committed to sharing this model and lessons learned in other international fora, and fully supports global efforts to address common obstacles and develop collaborative solutions for the rapid sharing of non-influenza pathogens in accordance with national regulations. As such, we welcome the WHO’s recent commitment, in the interest of public health and public health emergencies, to continue to engage the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity on the impacts of the Nagoya Protocol. We look forward to the WHO’s report on this engagement at the 70th World Health Assembly.
  11. In 2016, our collective response effort to the Zika virus outbreak was a significant example of GHSI’s collaborative work in action. Utilizing our voluntary agreement to share non-influenza pathogens during health emergencies, GHSI member countries were able to share Zika virus and serum samples for the purposes of risk assessment, as well as developing and expanding diagnostic capacity.
  12. We agree to continue our support to the international community in reducing the gaps in global capacities to respond to health emergencies and provide our collective expertise to advance the implementation of the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) worldwide. This includes the need to improve IHR core capacities for chemical events, namely in developing State Parties. At the WHO’s request, GHSI developed the IHR Guidance for the Assessment and Notification of Chemical Events to provide a systematic approach for assessing a chemical incident and determining the need to notify WHO while promoting enhanced information sharing and transparency.
  13. Finally, we welcome the proposal of the United Kingdom to host the next Ministerial Meeting in 2018.

This statement was endorsed by Ministers, Secretaries, and Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

  • The Honourable Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety
  • The Honourable Hermann Gröhe, Federal Minister of Health, Germany
  • The Honourable Nicola Blackwood, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Innovation, United Kingdom, on behalf of the Right Honourable Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, United Kingdom
  • Dr. Siddika Mithani, President, Public Health Agency of Canada, on behalf of the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, Canada
  • Professor Benoît Vallet, Director General of Health, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health on behalf of the Honourable Marisol Touraine, Minister of Social Affairs and Health, France
  • Dr. Francesco Maraglino, Director, Office of Communicable Diseases, on behalf of the Honourable Beatrice Lorenzin, Minister of Health, Italy
  • Dr. Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant Minister for Global Health and Health Industry Strategy, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare on behalf of the Honourable Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan
  • Dr. Pablo Kuri, Undersecretary for Prevention and Health Promotion, on behalf of the Honourable José Ramón Narro Robles, Secretary of Health, Mexico
  • Dr. George Korch, Acting Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, on behalf of the Honourable Tom Price , Secretary of Health and Human Services, United States of America