Health security is a joint task

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 8.9.2015 12.00
News item 42/2015
Päivi Sillanaukee in Seoul, picture by Outi Kuivasniemi

Infectious diseases and the threats posed by them will be dealt with at the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) Ministerial Meeting taking place in Soul between 8 and 9 September. Finland's representatives at the Ministerial Meeting will include Paula Lehtomäki, State Secretary to the Prime Minister, Päivi Sillanaukee, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Arto Räty, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Juhani Eskola, Director General of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, and Matti Heimonen, the Ambassador of Finland to Korea. President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö will address the meeting by video together with President Barack Obama of the United States.

The GHSA programme is a cooperative forum of 50 countries and central international organisations. It aims to improve national preparedness and health systems' functional capacity in order to combat infectious diseases. Strengthening health care systems forms an essential part of health security. The practical-level measures of the programme are focused on preventing epidemics caused by, for example, the Ebola virus and MERS coronavirus.

Finland chairs the steering group of the programme in 2015. Under Finnish chairmanship, the steering group has created an approach for impartial assessment of health security in different countries, and for considering additional measures needed.  The assessments help to strengthen the countries' own measures in detecting, preventing and controlling infectious diseases and biological threats. The assessment was piloted in five countries early this year. The pilot results are encouraging: the assessment supports a country especially in introducing WHO's international health regulations into national systems, and the assessment also emphasises intergovernmental collaboration.

Health security cannot rest on the efforts of the health sector only. Cooperation between different sectors needs to be strengthened. Bio-threats can be natural or caused deliberately, and the fight against them requires broad-based intergovernmental cooperation. Smooth cooperation is necessary between the sectors of health, agriculture, defence, development, interior and foreign administration, and civil society. Finland has enhanced its national multi-sectoral cooperation and especially its networks dealing with bio-security and infectious diseases transmissible from animals to humans.

Infectious diseases and various bio-threats are not a problem of developing countries only, but a common concern of all countries. Participants in the GHSA programme include the World Health Organization WHO, the World Organisation for Animal Health OIE, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization  FAO, the World Bank, Interpol, the European Commission, and the UN programme for disaster risk reduction UNISDR.

Inquiries:

Outi Kuivasniemi, Ministerial Counsellor for International Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 2951 63117, [email protected]
Tiina Raijas, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Defence, tel.  +358 2951 40318, [email protected]
Mika Salminen, Research Professor, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health FIOH, tel. +358 2952 48454, [email protected]
Mikael Långström, Counsellor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 50 349 8352 [email protected]
Marjatta Rahkio, Veterinary Counsellor, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 50 569 0522 [email protected]

More information about GHSA