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Global Health Security inquiry launched by Foreign Affairs Committee

16 October 2020

The Foreign Affairs Committee launches an inquiry into Global Health Security

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines global health security as “the activities required, both proactive and reactive, to minimize the danger and impact of acute public health events that endanger people’s health”.

When he addressed the UN General Assembly in September 2020, the Prime Minister announced that the UK would use its G7 presidency to create a “new global approach to health security”.

He announced a new 5-point plan intended to protect humanity against another pandemic. This plan included creating a new ‘global pandemic early warning system’ and increasing global manufacturing capacity for treatments and vaccines.

In his speech, the Prime Minister also said that the UK would:

  • Contribute £340 million over the next four years to the funding of the WHO: an increase of 30 percent.
  • Contribute up to £571 million to COVAX, a new initiative designed to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine across the world. Of this sum, £500 million will be for developing countries to protect themselves.

This inquiry will scrutinise the FCDO’s role in delivering the Prime Minister’s vision of a “new global approach to health security”. It will build on the Committee’s previous report ‘Viral Immunity—The FCO’s role in building a coalition against COVID-19’ and our work on multilateral organisations including the WHO. 

Chair's comment

Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat MP, said:

“The Covid crisis has tested nations and international collaboration like nothing before, exposing the failures in some capitals and success in others. This has left the multilateral organisations under strain and shown that some nations have lessons they can teach others.

As the UK struggles with the ongoing pandemic, we’re keen to hear what the Foreign Office is doing to learn from successes elsewhere and how we’re preparing to cooperate over the vaccine. Whoever controls the first effective vaccine will have a strategic advantage over others and be able to support—but this is about much more than the science of discovery, it’s about the logistics of distribution.

If Britain is to emerge from this disease better than it went in, we will need to have deepened connections to others, learnt from the best and shared with others the response that will see us succeed.”

Send a written submission to this inquiry

The Committee welcomes written evidence on the following points:

  • What lessons has the COVID-19 pandemic taught us about the importance of international collaboration in securing global preparedness and resilience against biosecurity threats?
  • Which countries have provided good lessons in how to combat COVID-19? What have embassies been asked to do to collect best practice?
  • How effective is the UK’s current approach to global health security?
  • What role should the FCDO play in bringing about a resolution to the COVID-19 pandemic and preventing future pandemics?
  • Has the UK effectively used its position in multilateral organisations to promote international collaboration in response to COVID-19 and the global health security agenda?
  • What should the FCDO be doing to support research and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine?
  • How can the FCDO ensure that COVAX is successful? What are likely to be the main challenges associated with worldwide distribution of a vaccine?
  • What role can the FCDO play in persuading countries to remove tariffs on COVID-critical products and how can the FCDO encourage further information sharing between countries?
  • What role can the FCDO play in ensuring cooperation in vaccine distribution?
  • What should a ‘global pandemic early warning system’ look like? What role should the UK Government play in its creation?

Your submission should:

  • be concise - if over 3,000 words, include a short summary as well
  • include an introduction to you or your organisation and your reason for submitting evidence
  • not already be published

Submissions should be in malleable format such as MS Word (not PDFs) with no use of colour or logos. Guidance on submitting written evidence and data protection information is available here: Guidance on submitting written evidence.

Deadline for submissions

Written evidence should be submitted through the Committee’s website by midnight on Wednesday 2 December. It is recommended that all submitters familiarise themselves with the Guidance on giving evidence to a Select Committee of the House of Commons which outlines particulars of word count, format, document size, and content restrictions.

Diversity

We encourage members of underrepresented groups to submit written evidence. We aim to have diverse panels of Select Committee witnesses and ask organisations to bear this in mind when we ask them to choose a representative. We are currently monitoring the diversity of our witnesses.

Media enquiries

Members of the press with enquiries should contact Joe Williams , Select Committee Media and Communications Manager, on 020 7219 8878 or 075 4651 7626, or by e-mail to williamsjb@parliament.uk.

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Further information

Image: PA