Accelerating Action in Global Health Security: Global Biosecurity Dialogue as a Model for Advancing the Global Health Security Agenda

Health Secur. 2019 Nov/Dec;17(6):495-503. doi: 10.1089/hs.2019.0121.


Biosecurity and biosafety measures are designed to mitigate intentional and accidental biological risks that pose potentially catastrophic consequences to a country's health system, security, and political and economic stability. Unfortunately, biosecurity and biosafety are often under-prioritized nationally, regionally, and globally. Security leaders often deemphasize accidental and deliberate biological threats relative to other challenges to peace and security. Given emerging biological risks, including those associated with rapid technological advances and terrorist and state interest in weapons of mass destruction, biosecurity deserves stronger emphasis in health and security fora. The Global Biosecurity Dialogue (GBD) was initiated to align national and regional donor initiatives toward a common set of measurable targets. The GBD was launched by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), with support from Global Affairs Canada's Weapons Threat Reduction Program and the Open Philanthropy Project, and in coordination with the government of The Netherlands as the 2018-19 Chair of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) Action Package Prevent-3 (APP3) on Biosafety and Biosecurity. The GBD provides a multisectoral forum for sharing models, enabling new actions to achieve biosecurity-related targets, and promoting biosecurity as an integral component of health security. The GBD has contributed to new national and continent-wide actions, including the African Union and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention's new regional Initiative to Strengthen Biosafety and Biosecurity in Africa. Here we present the GBD as a model for catalyzing action within APP3. We describe how the benefits of this approach could expand to other GHSA Action Packages and international health security initiatives.

Keywords: Biosafety; Biosecurity; Emerging biological risks; Epidemic/pandemic preparedness; Global Health Security Agenda; Global catastrophic biological risk.

MeSH terms

  • Bioterrorism / prevention & control*
  • Capacity Building / methods
  • Capacity Building / organization & administration
  • Containment of Biohazards / methods*
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control*
  • Global Health*
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*
  • Security Measures / organization & administration*