Dr. Bassem Ali Khreisan / Professor at the College of Political Science – University of Baghdad.

The Global Health Security (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 is a project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and was developed with Economist Impact. The GHS Index aims to spur measurable changes in national health security and improve international capability to address one of the world’s most omnipresent risks: infectious disease outbreaks that can lead to international epidemics and pandemics.

The 2021 Global Health Security Index assesses countries across 6 categories, 37 indicators, and 171 questions using publicly available information. The GHS Index benchmarks health security in the context of other factors critical to fighting outbreaks, such as political and security risks, the broader strength of the health system, and country adherence to global norms.

The GHS Index is designed to inform leaders of the foundational elements that are necessary to prepare their countries for future outbreaks and where they should prioritize planning and invest durable funding. By assessing these capacities every 2-3 years, the GHS Index stimulates political will and action to prioritize addressing these gaps.

The report outlines the full methodology on how collecting publicly available data helps build a transparent picture of health security gaps at the national level. The GHS Index 2021 includes new questions driven by the experience of the international panel of experts and the GHS Index project team’s experience from the COVID-19 pandemic and previous pandemics. The conclusions of the 2021 Index are the result of a revised framework and updated data collection conducted from August 2020 to June 2021. A team of more than 80 experienced Economist Impact field researchers collected publicly available data focusing on 6 aspects of each country’s preparedness, these preparations are: (prevention, detection, reporting, rapid response, health systems, compliance with international standards, and risk environment). The research team examined how countries performed in external assessments against their performance in the COVID-19 pandemic, along with additional variables that influenced countries’ responses to the pandemic to obtain a more comprehensive risk profile. The results of the 2021 Index show that while many countries have demonstrated their ability to ramp up new capabilities during an emergency -including setting up laboratories and creating sets of contact tracers to monitor the spread of COVID-19- some responses have been disrupted due to the unsolved long-term vulnerabilities, such as lack of health care capacity and critical medical supplies, are left untreated. Countries now have a sharper understanding of what this lack of preparedness means for their health and prosperity. The response to COVID-19 has shown that many factors -including public health and healthcare capacity, scientific understanding and distribution of countermeasures, and social and economic resilience- play a pivotal role in how countries are able to respond during a pandemic.

First: the position of the countries in the index

Although many countries have been able to rapidly develop their capabilities to respond to COVID-19, not all countries are still seriously prepared for future pandemic and pandemic threats. However, there is a significant opportunity to make new capabilities more permanent to achieve more long-term gains in preparedness. Most countries, including high-income countries, have not made dedicated financial investments; To enhance preparedness for an epidemic or pandemic. Most countries have seen little or no improvement in maintaining a robust, capable health system that is accessible for outbreak detection and response. It made the political and security risks in almost all countries, and the countries with the fewest resources and highest risks and loopholes made their preparations greater. Countries continue to neglect the preparedness needs of vulnerable populations, exacerbating the impact of health security emergencies. Overall, countries are still not prepared to prevent catastrophic biological events globally that could cause damage on a larger scale than COVID-19.