Amidst contentions over Palestinian statehood, a walkout by delegations during the Iranian president’s address, and the challenges of reinvented governments, a revolutionary moment for global health security snuck by virtually unnoticed at the 2011 United Nations General Assembly. On September 21st, President Obama delivered his address to the Assembly. After touching on a range of foreign policy concerns, he said:
“To stop disease that spreads across borders, we must strengthen our system of public health. We will continue the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. We will focus on the health of mothers and of children. And we must come together to prevent, and detect, and fight every kind of biological danger — whether it’s a pandemic like H1N1, or a terrorist threat, or a treatable disease. This week, America signed an agreement with the World Health Organization to affirm our commitment to meet this challenge. And today, I urge all nations to join us in meeting the [WHO’s] goal of making sure all nations have core capacities to address public health emergencies in place by 2012. That is what our commitment to the health of our people demands.”
This speech and the US-WHO Memorandum of Understanding that it cited signal a formal recognition of global health security — a commitment to improve both population health and the security of nations.
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