Investing in a Safer United States
August 21, 2012
Leaders in the U.S. government and others around the world increasingly recognize the importance of investing in global health security. Quality public health systems, including effective and adequate laboratories, information systems, and human resources to conduct disease surveillance and epidemiological analyses, and effective response strategies can protect Americans and persons around the world from both predictable and unforeseen emerging health threats that can quickly cross populations and borders. Work by the United States and its partners in global health security often draws minimal attention from the general public, especially during lulls in the perceived threat of emerging infectious diseases and man-made pathogens. This can and will change suddenly, when a serious outbreak occurs that triggers intense media attention and an international scramble to mobilize. This cycle makes it difficult to sustain adequate support to accomplish global health security mandates. U.S. agencies and their international partners have made significant progress in the last decade, but much work remains to be done, especially to encourage the strengthening of basic detection and response capacities in low- and middle-income countries. There is a continued need for better integration of U.S. programs to reduce potential fragmentation and duplication. Despite fiscal constraints and austere times, the stakes are too high for the United States and international partners to ignore or to postpone action.