Proposing a Geographically Informed Index of Global Health Security

Authors: Corinna Keeler*, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: global health security, international relations, health systems, international health regulations, health geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon C3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Despite the centrality of global health security in both public health and international relations, there is a lack of clarity in both the WHO communications documents and the scholarly literature of what constitutes global health security, and how to measure it. In this paper, I review existing definitions of global health security in order to establish a cohesive definition, and propose an index of global health security that can be operationalized at the country level in understanding the effectiveness of institutions during a disease outbreak. Definitions of global health security across disciplines emphasize international political and economic relationships between nation-states as well as the risk of cross-border pathogen movement, underscoring the inherently geographic dimensions of global health security. However, to date, there are no instruments for measuring global health security that take into account geographic context in determining susceptibility to emerging disease threats. This paper develops an index, the GHS Risk Index, that encompasses not only indicators of a given country’s public health infrastructure and surveillance systems, but also spatial indicators of economic, geographic, and transportation linkages that estimate how likely a specific disease threat is to arrive in that country. I use the 2014-2015 Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa as a case study to demonstrate the predictive value of the GHS Risk Index during a public health emergency, and in order to provide an empirical analysis of the relationship between GHS Risk and the overlapping landscape of WHO global health security intervention mechanisms.

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