Department of State envoy speaks about bioterror threat to United States

The U.S. Department of State Special Envoy and Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs recently spoke at Tufts University about the significance of bioterrorism and biosecurity as threat to the United States and the role of the Global Partnership in addressing it.

Bonnie D. Jenkins told an audience gathered at Tufts University that biological weapons and their use or proliferation by states or non-state actors presents a significant challenge to U.S. national security and the security of the entire world.

Jenkins said her role as special envoy has led her to aid in the development of a relationship between the global health and security sectors in order to prevent biological threats and improve global health security, whether the threat occurs from naturally occurring infections or a deliberate release of a biological agent.

She added that U.S. President Barack Obama signed a 2011 agreement with the World Health Organization to address the challenge, including working together with international partners to address all public health emergencies of international concern.

"To prevent, protect against, and respond to biological threats, we must look to initiatives that promote multi-sectoral approaches for biological security - and efforts that facilitate whole-of-government approaches," Jenkins said. "We must also work very closely with our international partners as we address global health security. One such mechanism that does this on the international scale is the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction - also called the 'Global Partnership.'"

Jenkins served as chair of the Global Partnership Working Group in 2012. The partnership was originally developed as a $20 billion initiative and a 25-member nation organization that focuses on efforts to prevent terrorists, or the states that support them, from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. It has since exceeded both its funding and original 10-year mandate.