ICM Policy Paper: Global Pandemics and Global Public Health

Majaz health center, the main health center supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross in northern Yemen, February 27, 2012. (C. Martin-Chico/ICRC)

The global health architecture is increasingly under strain. Pandemics and epidemics are occurring at an unprecedented rate in recent years, and the Ebola crisis in particular revealed serious flaws in the capability of the system to prevent and respond to these crises. As the links between health, development, and security challenges become ever clearer, the multilateral system anchored in the United Nations must address these issues with renewed focus.

This policy paper maps the landscape of public health challenges and provides an overview of current debates. Based on extensive consultations with representatives of states, various UN entities, and civil society, as well as subject-matter experts, this paper details recommendations laid out in the ICM’s final report, published in September 2016. These include to:

  • Reaffirm the centrality of the World Health Organization (WHO);
  • Strengthen normative frameworks for accountability;
  • Forge partnerships and reinforce linkages beyond the WHO; and
  • Recall the primary responsibility of states to prepare for epidemics and strengthen health systems.