Bipartisan Global Health Security Act Passes House

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Washington, September 22, 2020 | comments

Today, the House of Representatives passed the Global Health Security Act, legislation authored by Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH) that reaffirms the United States’ commitment to promoting global health security.

“Rep. Steve Chabot and I first introduced this legislation nearly two years ago, when we identified a dearth of leadership and strategy around U.S. planning for a global health security emergency,” said Rep. Connolly. “Tragically, the global COVID-19 pandemic has underscored not only the need for a robust federal response to such a crisis, but also the importance of investing in global health security around the world because diseases do not stop at borders.”

“Whether it is the current COVID-19 pandemic, or the next crisis, it is clear that these threats are ongoing and increasing. Saving lives from the next global pandemic starts with investing in preparedness before it strikes. As we’ve seen time and time again, diseases do not respect borders, and global health crises have immense security, economic, and humanitarian consequences,” Connolly added. “Our Global Health Security Act recognizes the critical role of U.S. leadership in international health security, enshrines U.S. global health security policy in statute, and ensures that there is a permanent designated official responsible for coordinating these efforts and accountable for response outcomes.”

The Global Health Security Act seeks to address two main issues – that U.S. global health security staffing and activities are largely reliant on an executive order and not specifically supported in law, and that the U.S. needs a permanent designated official responsible for coordinating the interagency response to a global health security emergency.

Republican and Democratic presidents alike have recognized the critical importance of global health security – from President Obama’s role in launching the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) to President Trump’s National Security Strategy and National Biodefense Strategy. The Global Health Security Act codifies U.S. investments in the ability to prepare for and respond to public health threats and reduce or prevent their spread across borders. In particular, this bill bolsters U.S. commitments under the Global Health Security Agenda, which is a multilateral initiative to build countries’ capacity to manage infectious disease threats and elevate heath security as a global priority.

The Global Health Security Act is endorsed by ChildFund International, Global Health Council, International Medical Corps, IntraHealth International, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Nuclear Threat Initiative, PATH, the American Society of the Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and Management Sciences for Health (MSH).

Text of the legislation is available here.

Video of Connolly’s Floor remarks are available here.

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