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2019 Global Health security index

Focus: GS2: Health

According to the Global Health Security (GHS) Index, 2019, national health security is “fundamentally weak” around the world. The report gains significance in the context of the recent COVID 19 outbreak.

About the Index

  • The Global Health Security (GHS) Index, a report from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security and the Economist Intelligence Unit, was released in October 2019.
  • The GHS Index is the first comprehensive assessment and benchmarking of health security and related capabilities across the 195 countries that make up the States Parties to the International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005).
  • The GHS Index assesses countries’ health security and capabilities across six categories, 34 indicators, and 85 sub-indicators. The six categories are as follow:
    • Prevention: Prevention of the emergence or release of pathogens.
    • Detection and Reporting: Early detection and reporting for epidemics of potential international concern.
    • Rapid Response: Rapid response to and mitigation of the spread of an epidemic.
    • Health System: Sufficient and robust health system to treat the sick and protect health workers.
    • Compliance with International Norms: Commitments to improving national capacity, financing plans to address gaps, and adhering to global norms.
    • Risk Environment: Overall risk environment and country vulnerability to biological threats.
  • The index measures countries’ capabilities from 0-100, with 100 representing the highest level of preparedness. The GHS Index scoring system includes three tiers.
    • Low Scores: Countries that score between 0 and 33.3 are in the bottom tier.
    • Moderate Scores: Countries that score between 33.4 and 66.6 are in the middle tier and
    • High Scores: Countries that score between 66.7 and 100 are in the upper or “top” tier.

Key Findings

  • International Preparedness
  • The GHS Index analysis finds that no country is fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics. Collectively, international preparedness is weak.
  • The average overall GHS Index score among all 195 countries assessed is 40.2 of a possible score of 100.
  • Overall, the GHS Index finds severe weaknesses in country abilities to prevent, detect, and respond to health emergencies; severe gaps in health systems; vulnerabilities to political, socioeconomic, and environmental risks that can hamper outbreak preparedness and response; and a lack of adherence to international norms.

Ranking of Different Countries

  • The US is the “most prepared” nation (scoring 83.5), with the UK (77.9), the Netherlands (75.6), Australia (75.5) and Canada (75.3) behind it. Thailand is ranked sixth in the Index the highest ranking for an Asian country.
  • Much of Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Asia and Central and South America are described as “more prepared,” with scores between 66 and 34.3, while the majority of countries ranked “least prepared” are in Africa.
  • India is ranked 57th with a score of 46.5, falling in the middle tier.
  • North Korea (17.5), Somalia (16.6) and Equatorial Guinea (16.2) are listed in the index’s bottom three.
  • China which is at the centre of the recent coronavirus outbreak – is at the 51st place, scoring 48.2.

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December 2023