The Global Health Security (GHS) Index is the first comprehensive assessment and benchmarking of health security and related capabilities across the 195 countries that make up the States Parties to the International Health Regulations (IHR ). The GHS Index is a project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and was developed with Economist Impact. The GHS Index aims to spur measurable changes in national health security and improve international capability to address one of the world’s most omnipresent risks: infectious disease outbreaks that can lead to international epidemics and pandemics.
What is the GHS Index?
WHO: The Global Health Security (GHS) Index is an assessment and benchmarking of health security and related capabilities across 195 countries. The GHS Index, which is developed in partnership by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, working with Economist Impact, was first launched in October 2019.
WHAT: The 2021 Global Health Security Index assesses countries across 6 categories, 37 indicators, and 171 questions using publicly available information. The GHS Index benchmarks health security in the context of other factors critical to fighting outbreaks, such as political and security risks, the broader strength of the health system, and country adherence to global norms.
HOW: The GHS Index is designed to inform leaders of the foundational elements that are necessary to prepare their countries for future outbreaks and where they should prioritize planning and invest durable funding. By assessing these capacities every 2-3 years, the GHS Index stimulates political will and action to prioritize addressing these gaps. The full methodology report explains how aggregating publicly available data helps to create a transparent picture of national level health security gaps.
Evolution and Importance of the GHS Index
The 2021 GHS Index framework incorporates new questions driven by the expertise of the International Panel of Experts and the GHS Index project team’s experience from the COVID-19 pandemic and past epidemics and pandemics. The conclusions of the 2021 GHS Index are the result of a revised framework and updated data collection conducted from August 2020–June 2021.
A team of more than 80 experienced field-based researchers from Economist Impact collected publicly available data focused on 6 aspects of each country’s preparedness: prevention, detection and reporting, rapid response, health systems, compliance with international norms, and risk environment. The research team studied how countries performed on external assessments against their performance during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with additional variables that influenced country responses to the pandemic to capture the most comprehensive risk profile possible.
The results of the 2021 Index show that even as many countries proved they could ramp up new capacities during the emergency—including setting up labs and creating cohorts of contact tracers to follow the spread of COVID-19—some responses were crippled by long-unaddressed weaknesses, such as lack of healthcare surge capacity and critical medical supplies.
Countries now have a more acute understanding of what this lack of preparedness means for their health and prosperity. The response to COVID-19 has shown that many factors—including public health and healthcare capacities, scientific understanding and countermeasure distribution, and social and economic resilience—play a pivotal role in how countries are able to respond during a pandemic. Click here to download a graphic illustrating the evolution of the GHS Index.
International Panel of Experts
Since the inaugural edition of the GHS Index in 2019, the individuals on our International Panel of Experts have provided guidance in their personal capacities or in their capacities as representatives of advising organizations. The judgments and recommendations reflected in the GHS Index do not necessarily reflect the views of panel members or their respective employers, other affiliations, or governments. Download the list of the GHS Index International Panel of Experts.
About the Index Project Team
The GHS Index is a project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and was developed with Economist Impact.
Nuclear Threat Initiative
NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan global security organization focused on reducing nuclear and biological threats imperiling humanity. www.nti.org
Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security
The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health works to protect people’s health from epidemics and disasters and ensure that communities are resilient to major challenges. www.centerforhealthsecurity.org
Economist Impact combines the rigor of a think-tank with the creativity of a media brand to engage a globally influential audience. We believe that evidence-based insights can open debate, broaden perspectives and catalyze progress. The services offered by Economist Impact previously existed within The Economist Group as separate entities, including EIU Thought Leadership, EIU Public Policy, Economist Events, EBrandConnect and SignalNoise. www.economistimpact.com
GHS Index Co-Leaders
- Jessica A. Bell, MS
Senior Director, Global Biological Policy and Programs, Nuclear Threat Initiative
- Jennifer B. Nuzzo, DrPH, SM,
Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Senior Scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security
Project Staff and Contributors
Nuclear Threat Initiative
- Nellie Bristol, Senior Technical Consultant
- Gabrielle Essix, MS, Program Officer, Global Biological Policy and Programs
- Christopher Isaac, MS, Program Assistant, Global Biological Policy and Programs
Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
- Amanda Kobokovich, MPH, Senior Analyst, Research Associate
- Diane Meyer, RN, MPH, Senior Analyst, Research Associate
- Lucia Mullen, MPH, Senior Analyst, Research Associate
- Sophie Rose, MHS, Research Fellow