The Centre on Global Health Security at Chatham House, headed by Professor David L Heymann CBE, examines key global health challenges and how they manifest themselves as foreign policy and international affairs problems. It seeks to help leaders around the world - in government, private foundations, international organizations and business - reach well-informed decisions that improve global health security. It does so by conducting independent research and analysis and facilitating dialogue between the international affairs and public health communities.

The Centre's work is focused on three often interlinked aspects of global health security:


  • Disease threats and determinants that transcend borders;
  • Access to health-related products, technologies and services;
  • International affairs, governance and health

Disease threats and determinants that transcend borders

Research in this area aims to develop policy options for reducing the collective vulnerability to health threats by addressing their politically and economically sensitive determinants. It also examines the political and economic effects of disease threats and efforts to combat them.

These health threats involve the emergence and spread of communicable and non-communicable diseases. The trade and other economic fallout from events such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and H5N1 Avian Influenza outbreaks clearly illustrate their effects on a wide variety of issues beyond health, as well as how decisions in other sectors affect health. At the same time, non-communicable diseases are becoming an increasingly important global health problem, with many of the same implications beyond health, which heightens the need to include them as disease threats of international importance.

Access to health-related products, technologies and services

Research in this area focuses on developing more sustainable and equitable access to the many products, technologies and services needed to protect and promote health.

One of the most difficult issues in contemporary global health politics involves increasing sustainable access to medicines, vaccines and other health-related products and technologies through development assistance, and the ethics associated with failure to sustain access once it has been obtained. Examples include the ongoing controversies around sustaining access to HIV drugs, and around equitable access to influenza vaccines, and to products for preventing or managing non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

International affairs, governance and health

While the Centre's other two areas of work examine governance issues and international affairs concerns in the context of specific questions around disease control and access to health-related products and technologies, this area focuses on the intersection of health, governance and international affairs in the context of the wider global political landscape.

This involves examining the shape and nature of global health governance itself and proposing solutions. Included are issues such as shifts in power and influence and the challenges and opportunities presented by an increasingly crowded global health field, as well as the challenges around the provision of health services in specific environments such as post-conflict and fragile states. This research stream also examines to what extent and how efforts to improve global health serve foreign policy interests such as security and economic growth.