If there is one thing I learned during yesterday’s and today’s sessions, it’s that Global Health Governance leads us to more questions than answers at this moment. Personally I, like many others, would like to see health on top of the global national and international agenda. But what can we do to achieve this? And more important: how can we ensure global public goods?
The world has changed immensely over the past few years, going from a multipolar to a multi-stakeholder reality in which new emerging economies claim their place more clearly than ever. Because of these changes there seems to be no clear mandate at this moment, no accountability. How can we create multilateralism with accountability? And who do we need to keep accountable for what?
Most, if not all, panelists agreed that in order to move forward we need to work together: together with other sectors, together with other departments, together with other countries,…, together in every sense of the word. As health is not a stand-alone issue that stops or begins at a border we need to acknowledge and manage our interdependence, we need to act together to defeat the current challenges coming our way and to integrate the social, environmental, political and economical determinants of health. This also includes moving away from development aid models towards new models diplomacy and of partnerships in which all actors have knowledge, interests and experience to share with one another. We can all learn from each other.
As we are in Gastein for the European Health Forum other important questions to be raised are: What can Europe do for Global Health. What role can the European Union play? A good starting point to answer some of these questions can be found in the Council Conclusions on Global Health of 2010. For now I will limit myself to give you a short overview of what the panelists shared with us.
Mr Guyader explained that the European External Affairs Service have a key role to play in a coherent foreign health policy. The European Union’s interests in Health on the international agenda are multiple. They are not only based on political interests like security and EU’s role as global actor, but also on its values like Human Rights. And let’s not forget the juridical, economic and social interests. When asked what the European Union could do to promote Global Health Mr. Srinath of India answered that the EU could create platforms where health issues like ‘How to create the right conditions for a healthy populations’ could be discussed together. Mrs. Jakab gave the example of the six roadmaps for action WHO and the European Commission are developing. Many other examples were given, but I’m sure you will read all about them in the report of the session.
The conclusion was that the European Union is working on its role in Global Health. The union is committed to collaborate with other institutions, agencies, countries, etc and many steps have been taken the past few years. Of course this does not mean there is no more room for improvement. On the contrary Europe needs a lot more advocates for Global Health and we might need to step up our pace not to lose track.
All in all still a lot of questions to be answered and a lot of food for thought. To add some of the latter I would like to end this blog with some quotes that keep buzzing in my head:
- “Policy does not equal Politics.” -> Global Health is not just about policy, it is also very much about politics.
- “Cutting back on Public Health is a false economy”
- “We need to define the key global goods in ‘coproduction’, not in silos.”