Canada is not ready for the next pandemic: GHS index

The Global Health Security Index (GHS) painted a grim picture in its 2021 report on the world’s preparedness for the next pandemic, with no country ranking in its top spot.

The GHS Index measures preparedness for emergencies and health issues and is compiled by the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Canada scored fourth out of 195 country, behind the United States, Australia and Finland, with an overall ranking of 69.8 on the index score, up 2.2 points from 2019, according to the GHS index.

Overall, the United States scored 75.9, Australia 71.1, and Finland 70.9. The top level of the GHS index is a score of 80.1 to 100.

The index is divided into several categories which are individually scored to mark readiness: Prevent, Detect, Respond, Health, Standards, Risk and General.

Here’s a quick look at how Canada scored.

CATEGORY ONE: PREVENT

The worst area of ​​preparedness in the GHS index was to prevent the emergence of new pathogens, such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused the current pandemic.

“The global average for preventing the emergence or release of pathogens is 28.4 out of 100, making it the lowest-rated category within the GHS index,” the report said, adding that more than 100 countries “show little or no attention”. diseases transmitted from animals to humans.

Zoonoses was a category in which Canada plunged in the GHS index, down from its 2019 score and ranking the country 39th out of 195.

In his Summary of the rationale for the country score, the Index says of Canada; “There is insufficient evidence that Canada has national plans and strategic documents that include measures for the identification and reduction of risks for events spreading zoonotic diseases from animals to humans. There are several zoonotic disease-related wildlife and animal surveillance plans that describe how Canada will deal with these risks, but there are no plans, guidelines or laws mandating the risk assessments themselves.

However, Canada gained four points in the “biosafety” section of the Prevent category to 86.7, placing Canada third out of 195 countries.

The rationale summary, the document that gives context to each country’s score and ranking in the GHS index, states that “Canada has biosafety-related legislation and regulations that meet requirements such as containment physical, operating practices, fault reporting systems and cybersecurity of facilities in which particularly dangerous pathogens and toxins are stored or processed.

Canada ranked number one in the “biosafety” section with 100 points, the same as the 2019 assessment.

CATEGORY TWO: DETECT

Canada retained most of its scores in the ‘detect’ category from 2019 in sections such as ‘laboratory supply chains’ and ‘real-time monitoring and reporting’.

Canada’s score in “case-based investigations” climbed 37.5 points from 2019 to 50, ranking the country 15th out of 195.

In the summary of rationale, the GHS index notes that while “there is no evidence that Canada has a self-sustaining national system in place to provide support at the sub-national level to conduct contact tracing,” it There is evidence that Canada provides medical care to allow infected people and their contacts to self-isolate or self-quarantine as recommended.

“Economic support varies by jurisdiction and sector of employment, and the evidence appears to be specific to Covid-19,” the summary reads, adding that there is an agreement between the public health system and regulatory authorities borders, which is added to the score assigned.

CATEGORY THREE: RESPOND

Canada has had its ups and downs in this category, maintaining its same 2019 score in the “emergency preparedness and response planning” category and ranking 19th out of 195.

In the “contingency plan exercise”, Canada scored 25 points higher than in 2019, with the rationale summary indicating that “Canada has activated its national emergency response plan. epidemic of infectious disease in the past year. On January 15, 2020, Canada activated its Federal / Provincial / Territorial Public Health Response Plan for Biological Events of 2017 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, which has become a global pandemic.

However, the summary also stated “that there is not enough public evidence that Canada has undergone in the past year an exercise to identify a list of shortcomings and best practices through a post review. action (post-emergency response) or IHR focused on the biological threat. (International Health Regulations) with the World Health Organization (WHO).

Canada also scored higher in the “risk communication” and “access to communications infrastructure” sections, ranking number one and 61, respectively.

In “trade and travel restrictions” Canada lost 50 points out of 100 scored in 2019.

In the summary of the rationale, the index notes that “there is no public evidence” that Canada has issued a restriction on the export or import of medical and non-medical products (such as food or textiles) due to an infectious disease outbreak, including in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rationale summary also referred to the travel ban to Canada, in response to the question “In the past year, has the country implemented a ban, without international / bilateral support, for travelers? arriving from one or more countries due to an infectious disease epidemic? “

The summary states that “in March 2020, Canada banned all foreign nationals from non-essential travel to Canada.”

Canada’s recent travel ban on southern African countries in light of the emergence of the Omicron variant has been criticized by organizations like the WHO.

CATEGORY FOUR: HEALTH

Once again, Canada retained most of its 2019 scores, with two notable exceptions.

In “health capacity in clinics, hospitals and community care centers,” Canada jumped 16.4 points to 49.6, ranking the country 35th out of 195.

The summary of the rationale states that Canada has 261 physicians and 994 nurses and midwives per 100,000 population, but “there is no public evidence that Canada has a national workforce strategy in place. work in the health sector (which has been updated over the past five years) to identify areas where there is a workforce and insufficient strategies to address these gaps.

Canada fell slightly in the “access to health care” category, ranking the country 155th out of 195.

CATEGORY FIVE: STANDARDS

All scores in this section, which include items such as’ commitment to share genetic and biological data and specimens’, remained the same as in 2019 for Canada, except for ‘Joint External Assessment (JEE) ”and“ Performance of Veterinary Services Pathway (PVS)). ”

In both categories, Canada gained 25 points to 50, placing seventh of 195.

CATEGORY SIX: RISK

Canada saw slight changes in its scores in this category, dipping slightly in the “political and security risk” section to place ninth out of 195.

The summary of the rationale ranked Canada among the “best” on such points as policy development, quality of bureaucracy and excessive bureaucracy (red tape), human rights risks, transfer of funds. orderly power and the risk of disruptive social unrest.

However, the country scored lower in categories such as vested interests, cronyism, public official liability, organized crime, and international disputes.

The summary of the rationale indicated that Canada scored 77 out of 100 (where 100 is the best) on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index.

The country’s scores increased slightly in the “socio-economic resilience” and “environmental risks” sections to 95.5 and 64.8 – ranking the country eighth and 38th respectively in these sections.

Public health vulnerabilities also fell slightly to 77.7, pushing Canada to 18th out of 195.


With files from the Canadian Press

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