The Global Health Security (GHS) Index is the first comprehensive assessment and benchmarking of health security and related capabilities across the 195 countries that make up the States Parties to the International Health Regulations (IHR [2005]). The GHS Index aims to spur measurable changes in national health security and improve international capability to address one of the world’s most omnipresent risks: infectious disease outbreaks that can lead to international epidemics and pandemics.

What is the GHS Index?

The Global Health Security (GHS) Index is an assessment and benchmarking of health security and related capabilities across 195 countries.

The Index accelerates the building of global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to epidemics and pandemics. The Index advances change by providing objective and public data that:

  • Creates political accountability for government investment in pandemic preparedness capacity.
  • Assists donors and governments with evidence-based decisionmaking that leads to more effective resource prioritization and investment impact.
  • Sets the global standard for biosecurity and pandemic preparedness.

To effectively advocate for more investment in biosecurity and pandemic preparedness capacity and better policies in this area, decisionmakers must be able to see what countries have accomplished and where their gaps are—as well as trends over time.

The 2021 Global Health Security Index assessed countries across 6 categories, 37 indicators, and 171 questions using publicly available information. The GHS Index benchmarks health security in the context of other factors critical to fighting outbreaks, such as political and security risks, the broader strength of the health system, and country adherence to global norms. The 2021 explains how aggregating publicly available data helps to create a transparent picture of national level health security gaps.

The first two editions of the GHS Index were published in 2019 and 2021 and developed in partnership among the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, working with Economist Impact.

The third edition of the GHS Index is being developed in partnership among NTI, the Brown University Pandemic Center, and Economist Impact.


Evolution and Importance of the GHS Index

The GHS Index supplies the most comprehensive source of data on national-level capacity across 195 countries to prevent, detect, and respond to pandemics—as well as being the only tool that can make regularly recurring assessments to track progress over time. The Index provides a singular resource to support data-driven decision-making, to maximize the impact of investments in biosecurity and pandemic preparedness in countries around the world, and to drive significant additional investment in this area.

The GHS Index framework incorporates feedback from an International Panel of Experts and lessons from the  COVID-19 pandemic and other epidemics and pandemics.

A team of more than 80 experienced field-based researchers from Economist Impact collects publicly available data focused on six aspects of each country’s preparedness: prevention, detection and reporting, rapid response, health systems, compliance with international norms, and risk environment. The research team studies how countries performed on external assessments against their performance during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with additional variables that influence country responses to the pandemic to capture the most comprehensive risk profile possible.

The results of the 2021 Index showed that even as many countries proved they could ramp up new capacities during the emergency—including setting up labs and creating cohorts of contact tracers to follow the spread of COVID-19—some responses were crippled by long-unaddressed weaknesses, such as lack of healthcare surge capacity and critical medical supplies.

Countries now have a more acute understanding of what this lack of preparedness means for their health and prosperity. The response to COVID-19 has shown that many factors—including public health and healthcare capacities, scientific understanding and countermeasure distribution, and social and economic resilience—play a pivotal role in how countries are able to respond during a pandemic. Click here to download a graphic illustrating the evolution of the GHS Index.

International Panel of Experts

Since the inaugural edition of the GHS Index in 2019, the individuals on our International Panel of Experts have provided guidance in their personal capacities or in their capacities as representatives of advising organizations. The judgments and recommendations reflected in the GHS Index do not necessarily reflect the views of panel members or their respective employers, other affiliations, or governments. Download the list of the GHS Index International Panel of Experts.