12 August 2013

Webinar: Global Public Health Surveillance, Governance, and Viral Sovereignty

Hosted by the ISDS Global Outreach Committee
Date and Time: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM EDT


  • Affan Shaikh, M.P.H, Senior Epidemiologist, Public Health Practie, LLC
  • Scott McNabb, Ph.D., M.S., Research Professor, Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health | Managing Partner, Public Health Practice, LLC 
  • Qanta Ahmed, M.D., Attending Sleep Disorders Medicine, Winthrop University Hospital | Associate Professor of Medicine, State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook, New York
  • Ziad Memish, M.D., Deputy Minister of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia



Microbes carry no national passports; neither do they recognize geo-political boundaries or state sovereignty. Yet a recent violation of viral sovereignty has brought up unresolved governance issues, challenged ethical public health practice, and added unnecessary global security risk.  Viral sovereignty refers to a sovereign state’s ownership rights over pathogens found within national borders.  First coined in the wake of tensions rising from the Indonesian government’s decision to conditionally withhold samples of H5N1 avian influenza virus in early 2007, viral sovereignty has been interpreted both in a positive light as a guiding, ethical rule to govern control of modern pandemics on the one hand and a potential risk to global health security on the other.
While the World Health Organization (WHO) revised the International Health Regulations (IHR [2005]) to provide a global framework to prevent, protect against, control, and facilitate a public health response to the global spread of disease, its success firmly rests on the delicate balance of trust and transparency.  Current disputes now highlight the imbalance between respecting and trusting legitimate national sovereignty while complying with global transparency in reporting.
This webinar reviews the history and role of the IHR 2005.  In it, we discuss the rights and responsibilities of various parties for public health surveillance and global health security.  We also discuss the origins and implications of viral sovereignty. And through two case studies, we point out the critical and current issues to be discusses and weigh the pros and cons of various options to move forward to greater global health security.

Learning Objectives

By the conclusion of this webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the history and role of the International Health Regulations (IHR [2005])
  • Review the authority and obligations of National Ministries of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) for public health surveillance
  • Delineate national and global rights and responsibilities for public health surveillance
  • Define viral sovereignty and its impact on global health security
  • Illustrate a way forward

Register here to attend!

Join the conversation on twitter! Use the hashtag #ViralSovereignty

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