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Global Health: India and the US

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India and the US might be at loggerheads on a variety of issues, but it may find common grounds when it comes to a US promoted initiative to set an agenda for global health security.

India is expected to be part of a grouping of over two dozen countries and international agencies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) that support the launch of a new Global Health Security Agenda to share intelligence and technology to fight global health security threats, including those of bio-terrorism.

The key objectives include the prevention and reduction of the disease outbreaks that are natural, accidental, or intentional through early detection of such threats and rapid, effective response through multi-sectoral, international coordination and communication.

It will also attempt to promote the development of specific multi-sectoral approaches in countries and regions for managing biological materials to support diagnostic, research and biosurveillance activities, including identifying, securing, safely monitoring and storing dangerous pathogens in a minimal number of facilities while advancing global biosurveillance, and frameworks to advance safe and responsible conduct.

Global Health Watch, an international collaboration of public health experts, non-governmental organisations, civil society activists, community groups, health workers and academics, however feels that the idea of global health security could be problematic. The effort to promote global cooperation in the detection of, and response to, public health emergencies under the banner of security may not be equitable, the lobby group feels.

The Global Health Watch Report points out that the current approach draws WHO into the highly contested field of counter-terrorism as it includes bio-weapon attacks along with naturally occouring epidemics. An adequate concept of security for global health must address the inequitable structure and unbalanced working of the global economic order as well as attempts to combat the effects of headline grabbing viruses.  Without this, the concept and practice of global health security will be more likely to divide the global community rather than bring it together.

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