Prof. Simo Nikkari MD
Future Forces Forum Future Forces Exhibition 2016
Director of the Centre for Biothreat Preparedness, Director of the Research and Development Department
Centre for Military Medicine in Finland
Biological Threat Reduction by Supporting Global Health Security
Keywords: Biothreat Preparedness, Biosafety and Biosecurity,
GHSA, One Health, JEE Alliance
The need to strengthen national capacity for health risks is an integral part of the UN Agenda 2030 and it is linked to several major global processes. Countries need to have the capability to prevent, detect and respond to all hazards, including those posed by biological agents. This is underlined by the WHO International Health Regulations (IHR 2005), the OIE Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS), the commitments made through the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction (GP), the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), and the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), among others.
Health security is first and foremost based on actions that take place at the national level, including in the farthest villages and remote areas. Additionally, it is clear that the international community needs to work further to tackle the present threats, and that a much broader One Health approach and high level commitment to secure implementation are needed. In Finland, the Centre for Biothreat Preparedness (BUOS) was established in Helsinki in 2005. The Centre combines Finnish scientific and laboratory know-how on biological defence, as well as on biothreat assessment and preparedness between the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the Finnish Defence Forces (FDF) under guidance of the respective ministries. In 2018, the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira joined BUOS based on recommendations made during the WHO led Joint External Evaluation (JEE) of Finland in March 2017.
Launched in 2014, GHSA is a global collaborative effort to boost country capacities. It builds on concrete commitments to work intersectorally on 11 areas of action. Receiving reliable information and feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of health security systems is essential for their further development. Parallel to the OIE PVS Pathways, the Joint External Evaluations (JEE) coordinated by WHO have become an important part of the process for countries to map the current status of their capacity to prevent, detect and respond to health threats. It is remarkable that 76 JEEs have been completed since February 2016, in addition to the six GHSA assessments performed in 2015.
In May 2016, Finland led the establishment of the JEE Alliance to facilitate collaboration among stakeholders involved in building health security across different sectors implementing the Whole of Society approach. To date, over 69 members, including 30 countries, international organizations, financial institutions, foundations, non-governmental organizations and members of the private sector have joined this multi-partner, multisector network. The JEE Alliance aims to support continuum in capacity building, including evaluations, national planning processes and implementation, as well as facilitating matchmaking of funders and implementers. FAO, OIE, WHO and the World Bank serve as permanent members of the Advisory Group, which is co-chaired by Finland and Australia.
Simo Nikkari is an MD board –certified in clinical microbiology and medical administration. He has been Director and Professor at the Centre for Military Medicine since 2010, and has lead/co-lead the Centre for Biothreat Preparedness (BUOS) since its establishment in 2005. BUOS is a centre for excellence between the Finnish Defence Forces and the National Institute for Health and Welfare.
Simo became Doctor of Medical Science (PhD) in 1994 from the Departments of Medical Microbiology and Medicine, University of Turku and has been permanent faculty since 1997. He was invited as Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor at Stanford University, CA, USA 1998 – 2001 in the Departments of Microbiology and Immunology as well as Medicine (Division of Infectious Diseases), respectively. He continued as the first CEO/CSO of a biotechnology company in 2001 - 2005.
Dr Nikkari’s scientific work has focused on the development of molecular methodologies to study the etiology of infectious and chronic idiopathic diseases, particularly those caused by micro-organisms that are difficult or impossible to identify using classic microbiological methodologies. He is the author of over ninety original, peer-reviewed scientific publications and the writer of numerous reviews and book chapters. He has four patents.
Professor Nikkari has been Principal Investigator of several commercial, scientific and other projects. Recently, his research and development work has focused on biological defence against selected agents. His most current projects deal with monitoring biothreat agents in Scandinavia, as well as biosecurity capacity building in Tanzania. Professor Nikkari has chaired several international meetings, and is a nationally and internationally acclaimed expert lecturer in Biothreat preparedness.
Dr Nikkari has participated in the BTWC and other mechanisms (GP, UNSGM) as a Finnish delegate member since 2003. He is a member of the Finnish Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA-JEE) Working Level Support Team, the WHO led joint JEE Senior Advisory Group and an advisor for the JEE Alliance Advisory Committee. Dr Nikkari has led several GHSA (Uganda, UK, Ukarine) and Joint External Evaluations (Tanzania, USA), and he is a trainer for JEE team leads.
Nikkari hosted the JEE of Finland as a member of the team of POCs in March 2017 and is continuing this work by overseeing implementation of those recommendations in Finland through a whole-of-government approach to enhance health security.