At the December 2009 Meeting of States Parties of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), U.S. Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher committed the U.S. Government (USG) to engaging the global community to achieving and sustaining the capabilities to combat infectious diseases and protect against biological threats. Specifically, she committed the USG to a series of actions, including international meetings on global disease surveillance and implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR), designed to enhance global cooperation and provide momentum for sustained progress in this critical area. This journal supplement includes articles that capture key presentations from two meetings: the June 2010 workshop on Comprehensive Global Disease Surveillance held in Washington, D.C. and the August 2010 workshop on Implementation of the IHR(2005) held in Geneva, Switzerland. The supplement also highlights efforts underway to enhance disease surveillance and IHR(2005) implementation by global partners and frames the current USG efforts to enhance global cooperation in disease surveillance, capacity building, biothreat reduction, and IHR(2005) implementation.
The IHR(2005) provides a framework to promote global health security in the broadest sense. Public health emergencies of international concern (PHEICs), by definition, do not respect international boundaries, and the IHR(2005) articulates a vision of solidarity that a common vulnerability to microbial and other threats should elicit. A common interest exists for all countries to possess the capacities and capabilities identified in the IHR(2005) to detect, assess, report, and respond to public health threats, whether they are naturally occurring, accidental, or deliberate in origin. This interest is neither solely a public health interest, nor a security interest, but a human interest. Accordingly, the public health and security communities have found it increasingly beneficial to work together to advance their shared objectives in this particular area. While these two communities operate in distinct spheres, there is an area where the public health and security spheres overlap. These workshops brought the two communities together to clarify the connections between these spheres and to promote and enhance cooperative efforts between them to advance IHR(2005) implementation internationally in an effective, meaningful, and sustainable manner.