Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently launched the State Department’s newest office, the Bureau of Global Health Security and Diplomacy.
The central mission of the new bureau is to leverage the full power and purpose of American diplomacy to bring the world together to prevent another pandemic. And if that doesn't work, to prepare for and respond to the next health disaster, explained Secretary Blinken:
“We're setting up a new bureau to focus fully on the need to drive both internal and international coordination and accelerate the state Department's ongoing efforts to strengthen global health security so that the world can respond with immediacy and intention when the next health crisis emerges.”
The United States has led on responding to international outbreaks, working with countries around the world to combat the 2009 swine flu pandemic, to counter the largest Ebola outbreak in history in 2014, and to slow the spread of Zika in 2015. And last year, the U.S. mobilized a global coalition of 32 countries, the European Union, the African Union, the World Health Organization, along with civil society and the private sector to help lead the world out of the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overall, the Bureau of Global Health Security and Diplomacy has three main functions, explained Secretary Blinken:
“First to lead the United States diplomacy in strengthening the global health security architecture so that the world is better prepared to prevent, to detect, to control, to respond to infectious diseases. That includes by working with partners to modernize existing organizations like the World Health organization so that they're more fit for purpose. And by shaping new structures like the pandemic fund.”
The second function is to leverage U.S. foreign assistance to strengthen public health systems including labs and supply chains for vital medical countermeasures in order to address current and future health threats alongside national, regional, and multilateral partners.
“And third to elevate health security as a core U.S. foreign policy priority through both our diplomatic engagements and through our role in health security policy making across the United States government,” said Secretary Blinken.
With this bureau, he said, “we will forge a safer, more secure future for our fellow citizens and for people around the world.”