Setting the context: The GHS (Global Health Security) Index as a measurement of country readiness to manage in a pandemic

The GHS Index was established as a joint project under the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (JHU) and was developed together with The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). It is the first comprehensive assessment on benchmarking of health security and related capabilities across 195 countries.

The GHS Index was developed to understand and measure improvement in global capability to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease threats, whilst highlighting capacity gaps in healthcare readiness to encourage political will and funding.

The GHS Index is organised into six categories based on 140 questions. The categories are:

  • Prevention
  • Detection and Reporting
  • Rapid Response
  • Health System
  • Compliance with International Norms
  • Risk Environment

The GHS Index prioritises not only countries’ capacities, but also the availability of functional, tested and proven capabilities for stopping outbreaks at the source. All this is captured via the 140 questions. Additionally, several questions in the GHS Index are designed to determine not only whether capacity exists, but also whether that capacity is regularly tested and shown to be functional in exercises or real-world events.

The GHS Index is also designed as an indicator of a country’s capacity and capability to reduce Global Catastrophic Biological Risks (GCBRs), which are biological risks of unprecedented scale that could cause severe damage to human civilisation at a global level, potentially undermining civilisation’s long-term potential. These are events that could easily reduce all the progress made in sustainable development and global health because of their potential to cause national and regional instability, global economic consequences and widespread morbidity and mortality, which is similar to the threat posed by COVID-19.

The GHS Index relies entirely on open-source information: data that a country has published on its own or has reported to or been reported by an international entity.[121]

For more information on the 2019 GHS Index, please visit

[121] Global Health Security Index, 2019

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