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, 19 (1), 954

Establishing a Theoretical Foundation for Measuring Global Health Security: A Scoping Review


Establishing a Theoretical Foundation for Measuring Global Health Security: A Scoping Review

Sanjana J Ravi et al. BMC Public Health.


Background: Since the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola epidemic, the concept of measuring health security capacity has become increasingly important within the broader context of health systems-strengthening, enhancing responses to public health emergencies, and reducing global catastrophic biological risks. Efforts to regularly and sustainably track the evolution of health security capabilities and capacities over time - while also accounting for political, social, and environmental risks - could help countries progress toward eliminating sources of health insecurity. We sought to aggregate evidence-based principles that capture a country's baseline public health and healthcare capabilities, its health security system performance before and during infectious disease crises, and its broader social, political, security, and ecological risk environments.

Methods: We conducted a scoping review of English-language scholarly and gray literature to identify evidence- and practice-based indicators and proxies for measuring health security at the country level over time. We then used a qualitative coding framework to identify recurrent themes in the literature and synthesize foundational principles for measuring global health security. Documents reviewed included English-language literature published after 2001 until the end of the research period-September 2017-to ensure relevance to the current global health security landscape; literature examining acute infectious disease threats with potential for transnational spread; and literature addressing global health security efforts at the country level.

Results: We synthesized four foundational principles for measuring global health security: measurement requires assessment of existing capacities, as well as efforts to build core public health, healthcare, and biosecurity capabilities; assessments of national programs and efforts to mitigate a critical subset of priority threats could inform efforts to generate useful metrics for global health security; there are measurable enabling factors facilitating health security-strengthening efforts; and finally, measurement requires consideration of social, political, and ecological risk environments.

Conclusion: The themes identified in this review could inform efforts to systematically assess the impacts and effectiveness of activities undertaken to strengthen global health security.

Keywords: Assessment; Global health security; Measurement; Public health.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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