The United States Southern Command in coordination with the Department of State and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have invited and funded members of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF), and the Jamaica Defense Force to attend the Global Health Security of the Americas (GHSA) Conference in Panama City, Panama, March 25 – 29, 2019.
This GHSA conference will offer military, civilian and interagency health professionals from the Americas a forum to address Global Health gaps to include detection of biological outbreaks and protection against biological threats.
The GHSA contingent from Jamaica are Dr Osbil Watson, Chief Veterinary Officer, MICAF, Commander Douan Kirivong, CDC, Dr Karen Webster Kerr, Chief Epidemiologist, Ministry of Health Jamaica, Major Petrona Campbell, the Jamaica Defense Force and Major Baron Mason, United States Department of Defense.
Among the group, representatives will make presentations and participate in discussions on improving biosurveillance capabilities to prevent and reduce the impact of a public health emergency or a trans-border animal disease.
Globally, there are many examples of new and re-emerging pathogens causing outbreaks, resulting in critical illness, deaths, overwhelming health systems, impacting economies and costing billions.
In 2003, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak which began in Asia quickly spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe and across Asia before it was contained. This event exposed weaknesses that resulted in an update to the International Health Regulations (IHR) in 2005, an agreement between 196 countries and all WHO Member States to work together towards global health security.
Countries have committed to build capacities to detect, assess, and report public health events. IHR also includes measures at ports, airports and ground crossings to limit spread of health risks and prevent unwarranted travel and minimize traffic and trade disruptions.
Few other significant events include: - Flu Pandemic 1918 (estimated 50-100 million deaths) - HIV/AIDS Pandemic (since 1980s has infected 60 million people and estimated 30 million deaths) - 2001 Anthrax attacks in America - 2009 – 2010 Pandemic Influenza - 2014 – 2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the ongoing outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo.
In 2014, GHSA was launched to advance a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats. GHSA brings together nations to make commitments, leverages host governments and partner donor investments to prevent, detect early and respond rapidly to infectious disease outbreaks. GHSA acknowledges the essential need for a multi-lateral and multi-sectorial approach to strengthen global capacities.