Rear Adm. Tim Ziemer, the head of global health security on the White House’s National Security Council, left the Trump administration on May 8. The news was announced one day after an Ebola outbreak was declared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The departure comes amid a reshuffling of the NSC under John Bolton, which includes a change in organizational structure that eliminates the office Ziemer led. Ziemer’s staff has been placed under other NSC leaders.
According to Robert Palladino, NSC spokesman, the reorganization will streamline the process, and Ziemer left “on the warmest of terms.”
But other global health security experts aren’t so sure about whether the reorganization will maintain global health security and biothreats―such as pandemics like Ebola―as a priority.
Beth Cameron, who previously served as the senior director for global health security and biodefense on the White House National Security Council staff and is currently the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s vice president for global biological policy and programs, called his departure “a major loss for health security, biodefense, and pandemic preparedness.
“It is unclear in his absence who at the White House would be in charge of a pandemic―a situation that should be immediately rectified.”
Loyce Pace, the president and executive director of the Global Health Council, a membership organization that lobbies for global health priorities, reiterated the need to know who was leading pandemic response.
“We really need a strong leader in place from the U.S. who will help coordinate an interagency response and can really provide that kind of assurance and contribute to the progress made in global health security.”