News from the Bush School

Bush School Hosts Second Annual Global Pandemic Policy Summit

October 28, 2016

The term “pandemic” immediately brings to mind the Black Death of the Middle Ages, the Spanish flu of 1918, or the HIV/AIDS crisis—all the result of unchecked disease contagion. The Bush School of Government and Public Service recently brought together experts from Texas A&M University and colleagues from around the world to discuss a range of issues related to global health at the second annual Global Pandemic Policy Summit, hosted by the Bush School and the Scowcroft Institute for International Affairs.

Experts in both animal and human health discussed emerging diseases in South America, the Middle East, Southern Europe, and North African regions, as well as the Pacific Rim.

Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, coordinator of Threat Reduction for the U.S. Department of State, gave the summit’s keynote address, updating the audience on the initiatives of the Global Health Security Agenda—an international partnership between nations, organizations, and nongovernmental stakeholders focused on reducing the threat of infectious diseases around the world. Although the partnership sees threats such as the Zika virus as worthy of its attention, Jenkins said the goal of the Global Health Security Agenda is to promote lasting, long-term strategies around the world to help bolster the ability of countries to fight off new and recurring illnesses.

Jenkins cited the need for the issues of disease prevention to be part of all countries’ agenda, and said it is important to have all the players—government, academic experts, and the private sector—at the table to effectively address what are clearly global problems. Issues being monitored by the Global Health Security organization include antimicrobial resistance, the emergence and spread of new microbes, and the spread of disease across borders.
Bush School Dean Mark Welsh noted the importance of addressing global health policy issues in an academic setting.

“We have experts in the Bush School as well as in colleges and agencies within the Texas A&M University System who are already engaged in the issue of global health policy,” Welsh said. “Our goal at the Bush School is to provide the environment where they can join colleagues from other universities, government agencies, and the private sector in thoughtful discussions that lead to better understanding and more successful prevention and response,” he added.

The Global Pandemic Policy Summit was held October 24 to 26, at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center. While Ambassador Jenkins’ keynote address was open to the public, attendance at the remainder of the summit was limited to Bush School faculty, staff, and students.