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Highlighting the Work of the Global Partnership in Countering Biological Threats
December 17, 2012

Global Health Security Collaboration between the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and
Materials of Mass Destruction and International Organizations

Press Release

A group photo
Ambassador Betty E. King, WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan and Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins at Global Partnership meeting in Geneva.

Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, Chair of the 2012 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction (Global Partnership), hosted a celebratory event at the Centre International de Conferences in Geneva, Switzerland on December 17, 2012.   This event highlighted collaboration between the Global Partnership and international organizations that share priorities on global health security and countering biological threats. Honored guests included Director General Dr. Margaret Chan of the World Health Organization (WHO), Director General Dr. Bernard Vallat of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and Deputy Director General Dr. Dan Gustafson of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), along with Ambassadors and representatives from Embassies and international health and security agencies.

The event provided an opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of the Global Partnership Biosecurity Sub-Working Group and its program of work to counter biological threats, which includes an emphasis on bringing the health and security sectors together.  Ambassador Jenkins announced two Global Partnership “flagship projects” that will be supported to implement this new program of work.  The first is a commitment to strengthen the ability of nations to implement the WHO International Health Regulations (IHR) core capacities.  The IHR are critical to preventing, detecting and responding to public health emergencies of international concern, whether they are naturally-occurring disease outbreaks or intentional events.  Despite the requirement for WHO Member States to have established IHR core capacities by 2012, over 80% of countries have either requested an extension or have not reported on these critical capacities.

The second effort announced by Ambassador Jenkins is Global Partnership support to assist OIE and FAO with implementation of rinderpest post-eradication measures.  Rinderpest virus devastated herds of cattle for centuries until the last outbreak was recorded in 2001.  Through a successful global effort led by OIE and FAO, the virus was declared globally eradicated in 2011.  Accordingly, OIE and FAO Member States agreed to destroy remaining stocks of rinderpest virus or to safely store them in a limited number of laboratories. The Global Partnership, having recognized the security challenges and the unique opportunity to sustain rinderpest post-eradication efforts, is committed to working with OIE and FAO to support these activities.

By prioritizing these two flagship efforts, the Global Partnership will be able to assist WHO, OIE, and FAO to achieve these critical health and security objectives.  Under the leadership of the United Kingdom, which will assume the G8 Presidency in 2013, the Global Partnership will continue close collaboration with WHO, OIE, and FAO to promote mutual global health security priorities.