Biological threats—natural, intentional, or accidental—in any country can pose risks to global health, international security, and the worldwide economy. Because infectious diseases know no borders, all countries must prioritize and exercise the capabilities required to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to public health emergencies. Every country also must be transparent about its capabilities to assure neighbors it can stop an outbreak from becoming an international catastrophe. In turn, global leaders and international organizations bear a collective responsibility for developing and maintaining robust global capability to counter infectious disease threats. This capability includes ensuring that financing is available to fill gaps in epidemic and pandemic preparedness. These steps will save lives and achieve a safer and more secure world.
The Global Health Security (GHS) Index is the first comprehensive assessment and benchmarking of health security and related capabilities across the 195 countries that make up the States Parties to the International Health Regulations (IHR ). The GHS Index is a project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (JHU) and was developed with The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). These organizations believe that, over time, the GHS Index will spur measurable changes in national health security and improve international capability to address one of the world’s most omnipresent risks: infectious disease outbreaks that can lead to international epidemics and pandemics.
The GHS Index is intended to be a key resource in the face of increasing risks of high-consequence and globally catastrophic biological events and in light of major gaps in international financing for preparedness. These risks are magnified by a rapidly changing and interconnected world; increasing political instability; urbanization; climate change; and rapid technology advances that make it easier, cheaper, and faster to create and engineer pathogens.
Developed with the guidance of an international expert advisory panel, the GHS Index data are drawn from publicly available data sources from individual countries and international organizations, as well as an array of additional sources including published governmental information, data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Bank, country legislation and regulations, and academic resources and publications. Unique in the field, the GHS Index provides a comprehensive assessment of countries’ health security and considers the broader context for biological risks within each country, including a country’s geopolitical considerations and health system and whether it has tested its capacities to contain outbreaks.
Knowing the risks, however, is not enough. Political will is needed to protect people from the consequences of epidemics, to take action to save lives, and to build a safer and more secure world.