Dr. Albrecht Schnabel, Head of Asia-Pacific Unit
DCAF and the Global Health Centre of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (GHC) collaborated on a joint project to assess the engagement of the security sector in the prevention and management of global health crises. The project, initiated in late 2014, was triggered by the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which remained DCAF's main focus and source of lessons to be learned during the different project phases. It resulted, amongst others, in the release of the book mentioned below.
As part of the project DCAF organized several meetings, round tables and workshops with security sector and health professionals, including in the margins of the World Health Assembly in May 2015, at NATO Headquarters in Brussels in June 2016 and with the Mano River Union in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in August 2016. It also organized a series of joint activities between DCAF and GHC focused on "The Security Sector and Global Health Crises: Preparing for Health Crisis Prevention and Response" in September 2017. There were several priority activities for this project phase. These included developing recommendations for training modules for health and security agencies, as well as strategies for feeding those into existing and new training and education initiatives; developing recommendations for the design of multi-agent and cross-sectoral simulation exercises of health epidemic outbreaks; and mapping early analysis and early warning systems for their coverage of health crises.
In the framework of the Geneva Peace Week 2017, DCAF and GHC also organized an expert working meeting and a public event on "Global Health Crises and the Security Sector: Opportunities for Constructive Cooperation" at the Graduate Institute in Geneva to officially close the project's research phase.
The Security Sector and Health Crises was officially launched on 4 March 2021. The book was edited by Albrecht Schnabel and Ilona Kickbusch, and documents the lessons learnt by over 30 international experts during the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in 2014-2015 in West-Africa.
The outbreak had serious implications for human security and development, heightening concern about political stability in countries that had been severely affected by civil war. Initial attempts to contain the epidemic were delayed, disorganised and inadequate. The crisis highlighted the need to build preparedness and more effective response mechanisms to prevent and manage future health crises, avoid human suffering and maintain security and stability. Security sectors, along with international security providers, can play an invaluable role if properly prepared, mandated, and integrated into multiagency mitigation strategies.