Global Health Security

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The Global Fund / Nana Kofi Acquah

Investing in global health is an effective way to achieve greater security and stability, to protect communities worldwide from infectious disease and to halt emerging health threats. The Global Fund strengthens countries’ ability to prevent, detect and respond effectively to current and emerging health threats.

While preparing for potential and emerging health threats is vitally important, strengthening global health security must start by protecting people from diseases they face today, such as HIV, tuberculosis and malaria – three of the world’s leading infectious disease killers. In 2016, HIV, TB and malaria accounted for 3 million deaths in 2016 alone. The Global Fund has supported programs that have saved more than 22 million lives, while building healthier communities and stronger economies. Yet we face myriad threats to our global health security.

Building resilient and sustainable systems for health

The 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa illustrated the importance of building strong health systems to prevent the spread of a deadly infectious disease. Robust health systems that focus on prevention, detection and treatment are not only essential for ending HIV, TB and malaria as epidemics, but are our primary line of defence against outbreaks that would threaten regional or global health security. The Global Fund invests significantly in components of health systems that are critical for global health security, such as community health workers, laboratories, data management and supply chains.

Fighting antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance – when organisms develop resistance to antimicrobial drugs – is one of the biggest threats to our future global health and economic security. Deaths from drug-resistant TB account for about one-third of all antimicrobial resistance deaths worldwide. The Global Fund provides 65 percent of international financing for TB and is a major source of funding for the drug-resistant TB response in low and middle-income countries.

In the Greater Mekong, the Global Fund and partners are supporting a regional grant to tackle the emergence of drug-resistant malaria, which threatens a devastating setback for the region and a major shock to health security. The Global Fund is also putting a bigger focus on resistance to HIV drugs, expanding the newest treatment regimens that are more effective, cheaper, and less prone to inciting resistance.

In our interconnected world of rapid travel, every country is vulnerable to new and drug-resistant “superbugs.” Fighting antimicrobial resistance is a way of improving global health security.

The economic costs of infectious diseases

While causing tragic deaths and suffering, infectious diseases can also hurt economic growth, increase migration and threaten development and stability. There are compelling economic reasons for ridding the world of HIV, TB and malaria as epidemics. Tackling epidemics and building robust systems for health fuels economic development, and in turn allows for greater investment in health, and moves us toward achieving universal health coverage.

  • The 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa killed more than 11,000 people and resulted in US$2.8 billion in economic losses in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone alone.
  • Failing to tackle tuberculosis will cost the world economy US$1 trillion in the next 15 years.
  • WHO estimates that US$4 trillion in economic gains would be generated by eliminating malaria by 2030.
The Global Fund / Sarah Hoibak

People on the move

More people are on the move than ever before, with 40.3 million internally displaced persons worldwide and 22.5 million refugees in 2016. The Global Fund supports innovative approaches to reach people, including refugees and migrants, with prevention and treatment services wherever they go.

In Belarus, strength to stay the course

Drug-resistant TB represents a potentially catastrophic risk to global health security, including to upper-income countries. In Europe, TB incidence rates are generally low, but Eastern Europe’s burden of drug-resistant TB is the highest in the world. In Belarus, more than 38 percent of new TB cases are drug-resistant. The global average is just over 4 percent. The journey from diagnosis to cure isn’t easy for tuberculosis patients. But they don’t have to make it alone. The Global Fund supports health professionals, community health workers and dedicated volunteers in Belarus and around the world who provide a needed lifeline when the going gets tough.

The Global Fund / Vincent Becker

Focus on Global Health Security
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Microbes do not stop at national borders, so an infectious disease threat anywhere is a threat everywhere. Making our world safer from epidemics means strengthening the capacity of countries to prevent, detect and respond effectively to current and emerging health threats.

Download our report for more on global health security.

Published 17 May 2018