Health security

Find out more about health security – a key priority of the interim Australian Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

What is health security?

The interim Australian CDC uses the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of health security.

The WHO defines global public health security as: “the activities required, both proactive and reactive, to minimise the danger and impact of acute public health events that endanger people’s health across geographical regions and international boundaries.”

An important part of health security is collecting and analysing health intelligence to identify emerging health threats. These activities help to support public health decision-making and improving Australia’s health security.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted that health threats can be critical to national security. Some of the challenges faced by Australia and other countries include: 

  • a highly connected world - where trade and travel create health security threats which emerge suddenly and spread rapidly
  • the continued threat of known infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and influenza
  • the emergence of new infectious diseases, and
  • increasing antimicrobial resistance. 

Our actions

The interim Australian CDC will strengthen Australia’s health security and preparedness against health threats, by utilising an all hazards approach to comprehensively assess the human health impacts of those threats. This will be applied to: 

  • international surveillance and situational awareness 
  • health threat assessment
  • developing national public health risk profiles.

This builds upon existing health security functions including management of the National Medical Stockpile and updating relevant health emergency management plans. By working with other agencies, the interim Australian CDC can better utilise health intelligence to identify and assess emerging health threats. This supports Australia’s public health preparedness and response. 

The Health Security Unit will work closely with health authorities across Australia to support preparedness for and responses to emerging health threats.

Key stakeholders

We cannot work in isolation to protect our health security. 

States and territories are responsible for delivering significant components of Australia’s health system, including many aspects of public health. 

The interim Australian CDC is also working with other Commonwealth agencies with interests in health security and emergency management, the World Health Organization and other international health agencies.

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