Dear all GHSA Colleagues,
Sawasdee from Thailand!
It was a pleasure serving as the Chair of the Global Health Security Agenda Steering Group this past year. One year ago (November 2020), Thailand assumed the role as Chair as we hosted the 6th GHSA Ministerial Meeting. Exactly, one year later, Thailand hosted the GHSA Leadership Meeting, and handed over the role to the new Chair, Italy.
The year in between those meetings was a challenge. Every member country and organization continued to work tirelessly to deal with the immediate COVID-19 response, while having to find a balance to prioritize time, resources, and personnel for GHSA commitments and improving preparedness. Throughout the year, Thailand continued to put forth best efforts, while learning from the challenges in moving toward the GHSA 2024 Target. Despite the shared challenges, GHSA stakeholders routinely came together to continue making progress toward building country, regional and global health security capacities.
This would not have been possible without the stable support of the previous GHSA Steering Group Chairs, notably that of the Netherlands who served as Chair in 2019 and 2020. The driving force and work of the four GHSA Task Forces and nine GHSA Action Packages, aligning with the Steering Group, the Permanent Advisors and the Secretariat, ensured that the GHSA mechanism would overcome the obstacles that obstruct our objectives.
Thailand remains committed to the GHSA. Thailand will continue its role as a Permanent Steering Group member, as the lead of the Workforce Development Action Package, as the co-lead of the National Laboratory Systems Action Package, and as participating members of the Biosafety and Biosecurity Action Package and Antimicrobial Resistance Action Package. Thailand will also continue to implement the GHSA concept of utilizing the One Health and the multisectoral approach and coordination and apply it at the subnational level, especially along border areas and at points of entry. The work of global health security never sleeps.
And now, we are honored to confidently handover the Chair role to our friends in Italy who will continue to carry the torch in this time of uncertainty.
Message from the Incoming Chair (Italy)
Dear members, colleagues and friends of the GHSA,
We are delighted and honoured to serve as the Chair of the GHSA Steering Group for 2022.
Thanks to the work of all Member States, in particular to the activities carried out under the Thailand Chair during some of the most dire moments of the Covid-19 pandemic, the GHSA itself can contribute to define future actions to counter the global risks posed by infectious diseases.
There are many challenges we still have to face, but the multidisciplinary method of the GHSA as a global model for a One Health approach will help us to prevent, detect and respond to infectious threats.
Our primary role will be to contribute to the definition of strategic guidance by the Steering Group itself, with the prioritization of GHSA activities, the monitoring of the implementation of the objectives and the facilitation of coordination and communication among Member States.
We are already working as Chair to achieve these objectives through actions aimed at:
- increasing the involvement of GHSA Members who are not active in the Action Packages,
- increasing the exchange of information, expertise and collaboration between the various Action Packages and Task Forces,
- showcasing and taking advantage of all the work done in measuring the efforts and results of different countries, in order to best fulfill the mandate and achieve the objective described in the 2024 Framework
Moreover, during its mandate, the Italian Chair will commit to increasing participation in the GHSA at the national level, through collaboration with other Ministries, in order to facilitate engagement also in the non-health sector, promoting a “holistic” system action.
We are confident that these actions will allow us to highlight, also at a communication level, the added value of the GHSA.
We are convinced that this work will prove to be of great importance, as well as being necessary, to better position the GHSA in the broader scenario of health security, considering how much this area is currently an objective in constant evolution, given that actors and regulations are changing rapidly due to the impetus prompted by Covid-19.
On the other hand, in our opinion, the above-mentioned elements highlight the importance of the GHSA and its work, which is carried out through collaboration among the Member States and in connection with other international institutions, in particular the WHO, the OIE and the FAO.
Until the next time, with kind regards,
Outputs from the GHSA Steering Group and Leadership Meetings
The 3rd GHSA Steering Group Meeting of 2021 was held on November 17-18, 2021 in a hybrid/virtual format for Steering Group members and the GHSA Leadership Meeting was held in Phuket, Thailand on November 19, 2021 for all GHSA members.
Over 45 GHSA member countries and organizations were represented at the Leadership Meeting. The meeting was held to reaffirm the long-term GHSA vision through reviewing successes and challenges, while identifying a concrete way forward, as defined in the Meeting Readout.
The Leadership Meeting culminated in the Handover of the Steering Group Chair role from Thailand to Italy, who was represented in person by His Excellency Mr. Lorenzo Galanti, the Ambassador of Italy to the Kingdom of Thailand.
In-person participants for the meetings were welcomed to the island of Phuket, Thailand where the guests also celebrated the Thai holiday of Loy Krathong.
The First RPHL Network Annual Partnership Forum: Networking of The Networks
Thailand hosted the First “RPHL Network Annual Partnership Forum: Networking of The Networks.” The meeting took place on 7-8 December 2021 in a hybrid format, and was attended by almost 200 participants.
Workforce Development Action Package: Joint Conference on Contribution of Multi-Disciplinary Workforce to Public Health Threat in COVID-19 Era
The Department of Livestock Development, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, in collaboration with The Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand, organized the “Joint Conference on Contribution of Multi-disciplinary Workforce to Public Health Threat in COVID-19 era” from 1-2 December 2021.
Welcome New Member: Southeast Asia One Health University Network (SEAOHUN)
SEAOHUN is one of the newest members in GHSA. Established in late 2011 with support of United States Agency for International Development (USAID), SEAOHUN is the regional network of 92 universities in eight Southeast Asian countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. SEAOHUN is a leading regional network of universities contributing to making our world safer by developing a resilient and competent One Health workforce to effectively prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease threats by leveraging education, research, and training excellence. SEAOHUN advocates the role of universities to: a) build the capacity of professionals across sectors to solve complex One Health issues, b) conduct research for evidence-based decision making, and c) assist governments with public health surge capacity. SEAOHUN has committed to contributing to three action packages – Workforce Development, National Laboratory Systems, and Zoonotic Disease. Please visit http://www.seaohun.org for more information.
Welcome New Member: The Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance (MBDS)
The Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance (MBDS) is the newest member in GHSA. The MBDS Foundation is a self-organized sub-regional network and collaboration effort among six Mekong Basin countries: including Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The MBDS aims to strengthen national and sub- regional capabilities in the infectious disease surveillance and outbreak response. The MBDS focuses on the collaborative cross-border disease surveillance in the Mekong region, including One-Health AMR. As a collaborative consortium lead, the MBDS has the capacity for health expertise, program management, data management and analysis, as well as administrative and financial management aspects.
Task Force Update: Action Package Coordination Task Force
The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that much work still needs to be done to achieve our global health security goals. The GHSA Action Packages have been reallocating resources, reprioritizing goals, and planning for the post-pandemic era with a new way forward. Today, we continue to witness the spread of the pandemic with emerging variants, which has challenged the Action Packages in advancing towards our GHSA2024 overarching target.
Despite these challenges, it has been a successful year for the GHSA Action Packages. In 2021, the APs continued to move forward their commitments to the Global Health Security Agenda by holding virtual meetings, hosting webinars, publishing stories of impact, collaborating across APs, and actively working on improving JEE and IHR scores. This year, we celebrated the launch of the Legal Preparedness Action Package, welcomed new leads for 4 different Action Packages, and started several new collaborations with multiple GHSA Taskforces—all with the purpose of supporting the APs in achieving the GHSA 2024 overarching target. As we plan for 2022, our efforts will focus on active engagement with the APs, launching an AP-wide webinar series, increasing outreach and advocacy efforts within and outside of the GHSA community, and of course, planning to hold in-person meetings as travel allows.
We congratulate this year’s GHSA Chair, the Kingdom of Thailand. And thank the Pakistan and Indonesian Secretariats for their continued support to the APs.
We look forward to working with the Italian 2022 GHSA Chair!
What’s new on the GHSA Website (Update by Pakistan)
To reflect the current developments of the activities in the GHSA community, a number of updates have been made on the GHSA website, which include:
- A separate page for the GHSA Stories of Impact for easy access to individual stories of the member countries and organizations as well as cumulative Stories of Impact of all members.
- A separate Action Package Page for Legal Preparedness Action Package for advocacy among all the member countries and organizations.
- Progress to Target Pages for the accountability and comparison of achievements between the GHSA member countries and non-member countries.
- Development of event calendars for effective Task Force coordination.
In addition, as part of its commitments, Pakistan has conducted a number of important Anti-microbial Resistance (AMR) events.