The CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security aims to chart a bold vision for the future of U.S. leadership in global health security, at home and abroad.

(From left) Commissioners General Carter Ham, Congressman Tom Cole, Ambassador Karl Hofmann, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo. Liz Lynch

Commission co-chairs Kelly Ayotte and Julie Gerberding at the April 17, 2018 Commission launch.
Commission co-chairs Kelly Ayotte and Julie Gerberding at the April 17, 2018 Commission launch. Liz Lynch

About the Commission

The CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security is a two-year effort organized by the CSIS Global Health Policy Center. The Commission brings together a distinguished and diverse group of high-level opinion leaders who bridge security and health, comprising members of Congress, past administrations, industry, foundations, universities, and NGOs, and the Commission is advised by a group of preeminent subject experts. The Commission’s core aim is to chart a bold vision for the future of U.S. leadership in global health security – at home and abroad.

In recent years, U.S. senior policymakers have shown greater appreciation of the growing importance of health security to U.S. national interests and of the need for a stronger, more coherent, integrated, better resourced and more reliably sustained U.S. approach. Multiple threats fall under a health security umbrella: risk of emerging and re-emerging infectious disease epidemics; rapid spread of drug-resistant infections; and advances in biotechnology that may make organisms both more lethal and more accessible for use as weapons. There is recognition that increasing levels of global disorder and conflict across the world are resulting in destruction of public health infrastructure and capacity, reduced access to critical services for vulnerable populations, and heightened risk of sudden outbreaks. These health risks undermine the economic and political security of nations.

A shared recognition has now emerged within U.S. policy circles that indeed the world has changed. There is a growing consensus that the rapidity and ferocity of successive outbreaks – SARS, H1N1, MERS, Ebola, Zika, H7N9 – means these threats cannot be treated as single, episodic events but rather need to be understood as a continuous threat that requires ongoing capabilities to prevent, detect, and respond, both on the part of the United States and within the international community. Reemerging as well as novel pathogens should be expected, both naturally occurring and potentially manmade, aided by advances in synthetic biology and genetic engineering, as well as changes in climate and land use. With this new consensus comes an awareness that national and international approaches have to be carefully integrated and investments managed to achieve strategic effect. That includes taking steps to ensure that civilian and military agencies are aligned, that public health and security spheres understand and support one another, and that we plan for and respond to both emergency demands and the need for long-term engagement and investment to address continuing trends and challenges.

While formidable obstacles remain – in high-level leadership, resources, basic capacities, interagency coordination, governance of WHO – we are convinced there is a ripeness to health security, an opportunity to press for strengthening America’s policy approaches in a way that can drive forward overall U.S. global health engagement, bring about new resources, and heighten the engagement of industry and security institutions, in partnership with other partner countries, multilateral institutions, and civil organizations.

Health Commission is a product of the Andreas C. Dracopoulos iDeas Lab, the in-house digital, multimedia, and design agency at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

This project is funded through the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.