Expert advice on strengthening health security

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Berlin – The Expert Council “Health and Resilience” today has a report on the aspect of health security as an essential element of a resilient health system opinion subject. The council identified several “urgent action areas” that needed to be addressed.

The risk of extraordinary and potentially serious events with negative effects on the health and healthcare of the population has increased significantly in recent years, the statement highlights.

In this context, Germany must better prepare itself to deal with dangerous situations resulting, for example, from environmental disasters or major disasters caused by military conflicts or terrorist attacks.

The Council highlights that such risk situations could lead to large-scale and long-term restrictions on electricity and water supplies or healthcare IT and communications infrastructure.

This shows that, to reinforce health security, multidisciplinary measures and interventions are fundamentally necessary at the level of planning and preparation. Additionally, ensuring rapid access to data for real-time analytics and predictive modeling is “essential.”

The greatest possible health security is essentially based on effective coordination and cooperation between different sectors and areas of responsibility. This also applies to the interaction between civilian health structures and security authorities, including the military, as well as the interaction between public and private institutions.

However, experts note that the actors and structures involved often fall within different jurisdictions of federal, state and local governments. There is a conscious and socially accepted constitutional separation in Germany between the civilian health sector and security authorities, especially the military.

In addition to “separate responsibilities and insufficient cooperation, this leads to redundancies and fragmentation of skills and resources”. However, an organized and coordinated interaction between all sectors is necessary. Taking into account “misinformation campaigns and divisive trends”, improving risk communication is also of central importance – which should increase the population’s participation, knowledge and competence.

Globally, healthcare must also be strengthened from a security strategy perspective. The Council proposes the development of an integrated health security concept in the form of a national action plan. This is urgently necessary due to “the current evolution of security policy and the increased risk of acute and exceptional health threats”.

Specific areas of action would consist, in particular, of improving coordination, communication and cooperation between different federal, state and local structures and actors in the civil and military sectors or security authorities. There is a significant need for regulation when it comes to assigning clear responsibilities and developing common concepts.

Cooperation, coordination and communication between actors and structures must be regularly trained and provided with adequate resources and relevant provisions, according to the council.

Background: During the corona pandemic, the Corona Expert Council provided scientific knowledge on the basis of which political decisions were made. In order to be better prepared for future challenges, the Federal Chancellery created the Council of Experts on “Health and Resilience” as a successor body. Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomed the members to the inaugural meeting in the Chancellery in mid-March 2024. © aha/aerzteblatt.de

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