Health security improvements

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The 2019 Global Health Security Index which looked into countries’ compliance and observance of provisions in the International Health Regulations in 2005 found 195 States-Parties to the global health security instrument posted an average score of only 40.12 percent, making most countries woefully unprepared for a pandemic.

Presented by Filipino scientist Dr. Raul Destura at the National Research Council of the Philippines Annual Scientific Meeting, the GHS Index was lauded by Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña as a good barometer by which countries can assess their health security systems to be ready for future pandemics.

The 2019 GHS Index showed a disturbing average and leads to the conclusion that national health security is fundamentally weak worldwide.

Dela Peña noted that the Philippines’ overall readiness rating at 47.6 is higher than the global average, ranking 53 out of the 195 countries. The country scored 100 percent in data integration between human/animal/environmental health sectors, 91.2 percent in immunization, 83.3 percent in laboratory systems, 84.6 percent in communication infrastructure, and 87.5 percent for international commitments by country. In terms of prevention, our average is 38.5 percent, higher than the global average of 34.8 percent.

The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has proven the findings of the GHS Index, as most countries, even the first world ones, have struggled to contain it and are reeling from the effects. In the case of the Philippines that was supposedly slightly better prepared, our COVID-19 response that has so far been underwhelming has exposed our weaknesses. Hopefully our leaders learn from the victories, failures and lessons learned over the past few months and we can improve our national health security programs and protocols to prevent similar catastrophes from happening again.

Very few countries in the planet were prepared to face the COVID-19 pandemic and if we must be honest with ourselves, the Philippines was not among those nations whose national health security responses allowed minimal impact and maximum recovery rate. If our government manages to turn things around, those decisions could lay the groundwork for a better national health security program. If not, then, hopefully, succeeding leaders can learn from those mistakes and failures.*

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October 2020
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