The Philippines’ efforts to share their data on Covid-19 infections helped improve its performance in the Global Health Security Index (GHSI) in 2021.
GHSI data showed the country ranked 57th out of 195 countries and economies, a four notch improvement from its 2019 ranking. The country’s index score improved from 2.2 to 45.7 out of 100.
The index was recently released by the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“Only 37 percent of countries have publicly committed to sharing surveillance data, and only five [Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore]is committed to sharing data specifically for Covid-19, ”the report says.
The country scored high in the standards category where it posted an overall score of 55.9 out of 100. In this category, the country ranked 12th out of 195 countries in the commitment to share data and information. genetic and biological specimens with a score of 66.7. out of 100.
The indicator takes into account factors such as a publicly available plan or policy for sharing genetic data, clinical samples and / or isolated samples, and public evidence that the country has not shared. ‘samples in accordance with the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework (PIP) over the past two years.
It also examines whether there is public evidence that the country has not shared samples of pandemic pathogens during an outbreak in the past two years.
“Data relating to epidemic and pandemic preparedness, such as disease surveillance, health systems and data on response capacities, should be publicly available so that officials inside and beyond the country’s borders understand the nature and extent of the threat and the tools available to contain it, ”the report said.
Meanwhile, the Philippines saw their score in the detection category increase by almost 20 points. The country’s overall score for detection is 52.6 out of 100.
In fact, the country ranked 1st out of 195 countries in terms of the strength and quality of laboratory systems, one of the indicators of the detection category.
The report explained that this indicator measures the capacity of laboratories in a country to detect priority diseases and laboratory quality systems.
“[This measures] the ability to quickly and accurately identify the pathogenic cause of an outbreak, informs disease detection, prevention and control, including the development of diagnostic tests and treatment options, ”the report states.
However, the Philippines recorded the lowest score of 27.7 out of 100 in the prevention category, particularly due to its declining performance on zoonotic diseases.
The country scored just 17.3 out of 100, placing it 93rd out of 195 countries in the category. This considers that a country’s action plans to respond to zoonotic diseases can mitigate the potential spread to humans.
It also takes into consideration laws and plans for identifying and reducing the risk of spillover events, as well as the monitoring and control of several zoonotic pathogens.
“It is essential to monitor and prevent diseases occurring at the human-animal interface in order to minimize the risk of new and re-emerging zoonotic diseases reaching the human population,” the report said.
The report says that overall, countries have been able to build capacity to deal with Covid-19. However, many of these capabilities may not be long term or could be seen as efforts to prepare for future pandemics.
Nonetheless, the report showed that there is still an opportunity to create new capacities that would be sustainable in the long term.
“Although the evidence shows that countries have built new capacity during the Covid-19 pandemic, many of these are temporary, short-term measures specific to Covid-19 and therefore have not been fully recognized. by the GHS index, ”the report says.
Based on the results, recommendations include allocating health security funds in national budgets and carrying out assessments, using the GHS 2021 index as a benchmark for developing a national plan to identify their risks. and fill in the gaps.
In addition, international organizations should use the Index to identify countries most in need of additional support; the private sector should use the index to look for partnership opportunities with governments.
The report also said that philanthropists and funders should develop new funding mechanisms and use the index to prioritize resources.
The GHS Index is designed to inform leaders of the fundamentals that are needed to prepare their countries for future epidemics and where they should prioritize planning and sustainable financing.
It is not a direct predictor of performance in the face of a health emergency; As Covid-19 has demonstrated, contextual social, political and cultural phenomena also have an impact on how a country responds to a biological event.