A fragmented system of global health security – report from the MSC Health Security Roundtable in Berlin
On October 16, 2017, the Munich Security Conference organized a Health Security Roundtable on the sidelines of the World Health Summit in Berlin. The Roundtable was co-hosted by the MSC and the World Health Summit.
Despite a proliferation of new institutions and interventions in recent years, there is a widespread perception that Global Health Security leadership is weak, and that the world is not ready for the next pandemic. This gap in leadership was exemplified during the West Africa Ebola outbreak by the need to invent a new organization, UNMEER, to respond to the crisis. The UN Secretary General subsequently convened a High-Level panel on protecting humanity from health crises, which recommended a greater role for the United Nations – a proposal which was not accepted.
Although WHO has a mandate to protect global health security, whether such leadership can be provided by WHO is a question to be debated. It could be argued that it is a lack of effective leadership at WHO that has led to the emergence of new global health institutions, some of which are seen as competitors to WHO, often competing for funds. There are also calls for regional or sub-regional organizations to assume primacy, risking further fragmentation of the global health system.
And the world needs to prepare quickly – the WHO currently lists nine grade 3 emergencies in the world – the highest number ever in its existence.
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