Singapore, Acute threats to health in a globalized world are the focus of World Health Day Monday when political, business and opinion leaders gather here to highlight the need for collective action.
A high-level debate between Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Store and Philip Chen, chief executive of Cathay Pacific Airways, top the agenda released prior to the event.
"When the world is collectively at risk, defence becomes a shared responsibility of all nations," Chan said in a statement.
Threats to collective health security include bio-terrorism, emerging and rapidly spreading diseases, environmental change, sudden humanitarian emergencies caused by natural disasters, chemical spills or radioactive accidents and the impact of AIDS.
A WHO document noted that 134.6 million people were affected by international crises and humanitarian emergencies in 2006 and 21,342 were killed by natural disasters.
The current state of health systems worldwide is inadequate, it said, citing a shortage of more than 4 million health workers with the impact primarily felt in developing countries.
"New outbreaks of avian influenza and the looming danger of an influenza pandemic, together with the severe health impacts of recent flooding in Indonesia and the Horn of Africa, underline the fact that now is the time to focus on international health security," Chan said.
Governments, donors, civil society, the private sector and communities will be urged to take collective action, WHO said.