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Towards a global health architecture that works for all

Insights from a debate on where we stand, what must change and how Germany can contribute.

Clemens Gros

Dialogue participants
  • Christoph Benn, Director for Global Health Diplomacy, Joep Lange Institute
  • Kate Dodson, Vice President for Global Health Strategy, United Nations Foundation
  • Roland Göhde, Chair of the Board, German Health Alliance
  • Anna Holzscheiter, Professor of International Politics, Technical University Dresden
  • Ilona Kickbusch, Founder and Chair of the Global Health Centre, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva
  • Jean-Olivier Schmidt, Head of Programme, BACKUP Health, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ)
  • Elhadj As Sy, Chair of the Board, Kofi Annan Foundation

Published by: Global Health Hub Germany and Healthy DEvelopments
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

Towards Global Health Architecture

Emerging suggestions

The following suggestions for German policy-makers surfaced over the course of the Catalyst Dialogue. They do not necessarily represent the views of all Dialogue participants:

  • Strengthen the role of WHO as the ‘normative pole’ of global health and its coordination function, primarily by funding it ‘properly’.
  • Push for better coordination between the major global health initiatives and alignment with existing country systems by exerting political leadership on the governing boards of these institutions and by introducing follow-up mechanisms.
  • Establish meaningful mechanisms for participation of non-state actors in global health decision making, for example, by empowering non-state actors to bring their voices into the World Health Assembly, and by giving civil society full voting rights on the major new initiatives currently emerging in global health.
  • Offer technical development cooperation to support partner countries in strengthening their regulatory and management capacity to effectively coordinate their engagement with global health initiatives and to present their national policies and plans as the basis for donor alignment.
  • In Germany, cultivate expertise for global health through systematic investment in academic training and in promotion of think tanks and ‘public intellectuals’ in the country’s global health ecosystem.
  • Map and connect German actors active in global health to enable synergies, for example, between bilateral development cooperation, private sector investment, civil society engagement and scientific or academic expertise.
  • Reduce internal fragmentation in how Germany engages in global health governance by better coordinating and aligning positions and engagements across the multitude of German ministries and agencies with a mandate for global health.

Why a Catalyst Dialogue on global health architecture?

Eight years remain to attain ‘healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.’ This is what the world has explicitly commited itself to achieve by 2030, as measured and tracked through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). But meanwhile, the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare humanity’s difficulty to organise effective collective action to meet its common global health challenges.
What can be done to make the organisational and governance arrangements of global health ‘work’ to deliver the results the world expects? To inform the German government’s position on this question, the Global Health Hub Germany, in cooperation with Healthy DEvelopments, on behalf respectively of the German Federal Ministries of Health and of Economic Cooperation and Development, convened a high-level ‘Catalyst Dialogue‘ among seven distinguished representatives of academia, development cooperation, foundations and the private sector, including from the Global South. Guided by the overarching question ‘Which global health architecture do we need?’, the participants gathered for two virtual debates and contributed individual reflections in bilateral conversations.

The objective of this paper is to share their diverse perspectives on this question. Rather than present a consensual statement, the document traces central lines of argument from this Catalyst Dialogue. It seeks to present insights into learnings, challenges and opportunities, identifying where there might be potential to work towards a global health architecture that functions for all of us.

This paper closely follows the Catalyst Dialogue discourse as it unfolded. It illustrates policy-relevant positions and presents opposing and sometimes even contradictory perspectives, all of which promise to enrich Germany’s policy dialogue on global health governance.

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