2016 Global Health Security Update: Risk Considerations Beneath The Headlines

Latest Developments

Ascel Bio has updated its map on global health security. This is a visualization of baseline country-level health and biosecurity risk. The map has been generated by Ascel Bio from data on key health security indicators:

  1. The accessibility of healthcare and personnel. (I.e. “If I am sick can I access adequate medical care?”)
  2. The total disease burden. (I.e. “How likely am I to lose years off of my life to illness or disability?”)

Data for these indicators is available for 157 countries worldwide and are presented on a categorical scale. The countries with far fewer (or fewer reported) healthcare personnel and a more significant disease burden fall into the higher risk categories (represented as red to orange), while countries with a better funded healthcare system and a smaller disease burden fall into the lower risk categories (represented as yellow to green). Countries without adequate data are white. The lack of data is likely a sign of poor surveillance and these countries should be considered at moderate-to-highest risk.


There are a few key points that stand out from the map above:

  • Higher risk countries tend to be less developed while low risk countries are more developed. This is expected given that a buoyant economy is needed to sustain an operational healthcare system.
  • A few highly developed countries, namely the United States, China, and Russia, are in the moderate risk categories. This can be attributable to a high burden of chronic diseases such as cancer and obesity (USA, Russia) or limited access to healthcare for rural populations (China).
  • Sub-Saharan Africa, India, and parts of Southeast Asia are at highest risk. The reasons for this categorization can be (a) large rural populations without access to medical care, (b) the significant endemic prevalence of highly burdensome diseases such as HIV, malaria, and various cancers, (c) and stalled or developing economies that have not focused resources on health system development.
  • The lowest risk countries are not immune to outbreaks. Though outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases and highly fatal diseases are rare, low risk countries like Germany, Australia, and Canada are still at risk to critical outbreaks, including foodborne illnesses, avian influenza, seasonal influenza, and measles. These outbreaks can be systemic, e.g. foodborne illness and avian flu, resulting from a breakdown in oversight, or due of complacency, e.g. seasonal flu and measles, when pockets of people fail to vaccinate.

Likely Scenarios


Probability Scenario
90% In the year ahead, the ratings displayed by Ascel Bio in this map relating to a composite score of (i.) accessibility to healthcare and personnel and (ii.) total disease burden will have a direct relationship to the level of biological risk and capacity of a government to respond to a biological event.

The issues measured and ranked will not have an impact on a country’s risk and capacity of a government to respond to a biological event.

Key Indicators

The map presented in this report is a starting point for visualizing and analyzing a number of critical health security indicators. Additional indicators are layered depending on events. For example:

  • The health system (the size and scope of healthcare system, private and public healthcare expenditure, waiting times, correct diagnostic rates, and demographic patterns of care);
  • The disease burden (ratio of infectious to chronic diseases, rates of cancer, HIV, malaria, and antimicrobial resistance, size and scope of outbreaks, and number of critical outbreak events); and,
  • The level of transparency (granularity and consistency of disease reporting, cooperation with IHR).

Additionally, Ascel Bio captures a number of social indicators in response to outbreaks that are be layered into event analysis.

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Posted on: Oct 24, 2018 | Share:
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