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New policy paper links health protection to security

24 April 2017

The Commonwealth will highlight the links between health and global security in a policy paper that outlines the role of health protection in addressing violence and achieving security.

The analysis will be presented to Commonwealth Health Ministers at their 2017 meeting in Geneva next month under the theme: Sustainable financing of universal health coverage as an essential component for global security including the reduction of all forms of violence.

“It is a pioneering area of health policy work that explores how sustainably-funded universal health coverage can prevent violence in the context of wider issues such as climate change and migration,” said Dr Jo Nurse, Head of Health and Education at the Commonwealth Secretariat.  

“Maintaining a healthy and productive population with good social protection systems builds social resilience, fuels economies and contributes to preventing civil unrest and extremism.”

Dr Nurse added: “There is a lot of research on the effect of security on health, but less on the effect of health on security.”

The policy paper examines

  • Why pandemics, such as Ebola and Zika highlight the vulnerability of all populations, while fragmented and weak health systems risk late detection and responses;
  • Why health systems can reduce the risks associated with climate change as well as strengthen preparedness, response and recovery;
  • Why health system strengthening needs to be a core component of emergency preparedness and plays an important role in managing risk related to natural and human disasters;
  • Why health plays a key role in the recovery and integration of the estimated 1bn migrants globally; and
  • Why health services can address risk factors and interventions for the prevention of violence and can help contribute to resilient societies.

The Commonwealth Health Protection Policy Toolkit, published last year, has been updated with a second edition to assist governments in implementing universal health coverage (UHC) and will also be presented to Ministers in May.

According to the World Health Organization, “Universal health coverage means that all people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship”.

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