I’m so grateful for the chance to speak to this group.
I’d like to thank Singapore for hosting the conference, and for its leadership on these issues – from developing innovative policies and practices to strengthen urban health security…to the crucial role that Senior Minister Shanmugaratnam played in shepherding the G20’s high level panel on financing for pandemic preparedness.
We live in a different world from the one of 2019, when the first Global Health Security Conference took place.
Yet it’s striking – looking back at the outcomes of that first conference in Sydney – how much this community of experts already knew about the changes we needed to make to better prepare for pandemics.
COVID-19 has made people in every part of the world understand – on a personal level – how their health is bound up with that of other individuals and nations.
That awareness – and the fierce urgency to make sure history does not repeat itself – gives us a unique chance to break the cycle of pandemic panic and neglect.
We also have the knowledge.
More than ever before, the pandemic has taught us what an effective approach looks like.
An effective approach is an all-of-government approach. Health security must be a priority not only for health ministers – but across governments’ domestic and foreign policy, and these efforts must be integrated.
That’s why, when our government set out its vision for building back better for the next pandemic, we did it across U.S. government agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USAID, and many others.
And you’ll see that reflected in the diverse delegation we sent to this conference.
An effective approach is an all-of-society approach.
International organizations, philanthropy, academics, the private sector, community leaders, and citizens all have a role to play.
And governments must do a better job of collaborating with these groups.
An effective approach is an inclusive and equitable approach – because as the spread of COVID has demonstrated, a weakness at any link in the global chain puts us all at greater risk.
When it comes to pandemic preparedness and response, inequity fosters vulnerability.
Rallying countries to more effectively address those inequities was one of the top priorities of the two COVID-19 summits held by President Biden, and of the meeting of fellow foreign ministers that I convened last November.
And an effective approach is a One Health approach – because the health of people, animals, and our shared environment are increasingly connected.
We can no longer treat our pandemic preparedness efforts as separate from those to tackle the climate crisis or to preserve our planet’s extraordinary biodiversity.
Let me set out five ways the United States is working with others to try to build this effective approach, and where we hope for your partnership and your feedback.
First, the United States continues to work relentlessly to end the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Together with partners around the world, we launched a Global Action Plan, or GAP, to focus on, and take responsibility for, six urgent lines of effort. Those include getting more shots into arms, strengthening health supply chains, and combating misinformation and disinformation.
Just two weeks ago, 40 countries and international organizations participated in a meeting at the State Department to take stock of on our progress and plot next steps – and we’ll keep pushing to meet the targets we’ve set.
Second, we must ensure sustainable financing.
We’ll soon take an important step in that direction, when the World Bank Board votes to approve the creation of the Financial Intermediary Fund for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response.
This wouldn’t have come about without the determined advocacy of many at this conference.
We’re particularly grateful to Indonesia for its leadership at the G20 in pushing for the fund’s creation, and for its initial contribution to the FIF, along with the EU, Germany, and the Wellcome Trust.
The U.S. has already committed $450 million to the fund, and we’re looking to others to step up with us.
This is critical to closing gaps at the country, regional, and global level – and averting the much greater costs of failing to adequately prepare for health emergencies.
Third, it’s time to amend the WHO’s International Health Regulations.
These were last updated in 2005, and we’ve learned a lot since that time about how governments can more effectively prevent, detect, report, and respond to public health emergencies within their borders.
The United States has suggested a number of amendments – such as establishing early warning triggers and enhancing rapid information sharing.
We know you will have other ideas.
When the formal discussions of these reforms start later this year, we look forward to working with all of you to make the most of this opportunity.
Fourth, we are committed to developing an international instrument to support more rapid and equitable pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.
The United States is fully engaged in negotiations around this instrument, and committed to working with other governments and experts to ensure it meets the challenges we face.
Fifth, we continue to leverage our programs, resources, and expertise to help other countries in this shared endeavor.
Since 2014, the United States has invested more $80 billion to support efforts around the globe to prevent, detect, and respond to public health emergencies.
We continue to be the biggest donor for the Global Fund, which has long played a pivotal role in responding to the HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria epidemics. And we continue to provide ongoing support for PEPFAR, which has saved more than 21 million lives and prevented millions of HIV infections.
As the pandemic has demonstrated, the training and infrastructure we’ve developed through these programs can play a critical role in responding to other health emergencies.
It’s yet another reason we must meet the targets set for the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference this year, which the United States is proud to host.
Our funding also includes robust investments in strengthening the health security of individual countries.
In Vietnam, we worked with the government to train more than 7,500 health workers during the pandemic on infection prevention and control measures.
In Sierra Leone, we helped establish – for the first time – in-country capacity to test for high-risk diseases.
At the recent Summit of the Americas, we announced that we’ll train and equip half a million local healthcare workers across the Western Hemisphere over the next five years.
This year, we’ll expand our efforts to more regions and more countries.
We know that every outbreak begins and ends at the community level – where so many of you serve on the frontlines, day in and day out, and where we truly learn what works and what doesn’t.
So I want all of the participants in this conference to know that the U.S. delegation is there not just to share our priorities, but also to listen to yours…and to learn from your ideas and insights, so that we can improve our policies and practices, and work better together.
That’s what an all-of-society and all-of-world approach is all about, and we’re committed to practicing it.
We are grateful for your service, and we look forward to carrying this essential work forward, together, for the health of our people and people everywhere.