A Commentary by Professor Ilona Kickbusch
Ambassador Martin Dahinden, Director General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), addressed the symposium’s international audience and highlighted the role of global health governance from the perspective of a donor agency, outlining what he saw as the key challenges facing developing countries as they strive to meet the health-related Millennium Development Goals.
Dahinden’s welcome speech was complemented by a keynote address delivered by Zsuzsanna Jakab, Director of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and Director-Elect for WHO’s Regional Office for Europe. She gave a summary of her experience in leading ECDC through its first four years as an active EU agency and she talked about plans for WHO and EU cooperation through her new role at WHO’s Regional Office for Europe.
Professor Andrew Cooper from the University of Waterloo in Canada gave a thought-provoking presentation on the potential role in global health that the G-20 could have as it takes over from the G-8 as the predominant club for global leadership. The Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations, Ambassador Sihasak Phuangketkeow, provided an insight into ASEAN’s contribution to global health, as well as that of new groups of nation states such as those behind the Oslo Ministerial Declaration on Health and Foreign Policy. The discussions continued through a panel of diplomats, where representatives from Canada, Finland, Indonesia and Mexico discussed their changing role in global health diplomacy.
In addition to the global perspective, the symposium also focused on European regional actors, namely the European Union and WHO’s Regional Office for Europe. The event also coincided with an announcement by the European Commission to launch an online open consultation to gather input for a communication on the EU’s role in global health.
Finally, the symposium served as a launching pad for Global Health Europe, a new platform and think tank for policy dialogue, which is currently hosted by the Graduate Institute’s Global Health Programme. More information on this new initiative can be found at www.globalhealtheurope.org.
More on the European Commission’s open consultation