Ministerial Meeting of the Global Health Security Initiative

On December 13, 2013 the Global Health Security Initiative (GHSI) held its Ministerial Meeting in Rome to reflect on emerging health security events of the last year and to explore collaborative actions to protect the health and safety of populations, and to strengthen health security globally.

The full conclusions of the meeting can be accessed here:(

The GHSI is an informal, international partnership among countries to strengthen health preparedness and response globally to threats of biological, chemical, radio-nuclear terrorism (CBRN) and pandemic influenza. It's members are Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States. The World Health Organization serves as an expert advisor to the GHSI.

Invitation to apply: Executive Course on Global Health Diplomacy; 12-14 February (Geneva)

Organised by the Global Health Programme at the Graduate Institute

Intellectual property (IP) issues play an important role in discussions of national and global health issues. Yet, individuals whose primary expertise is health or diplomacy may find these discussions inaccessible because they lack a sufficient understanding of intellectual property concepts and their relationship to global public health. This course is designed to help fill this gap by exploring current and emerging issues and the debates surrounding health-related aspects of IP through a multi-disciplinary learning process. The course includes an overview and assessment of the global intellectual property framework in the context of multilateral diplomacy, followed by modules on:

•    Innovative mechanisms to  promote research related to neglected diseases, including a dialogue among stakeholders in the process
•    IP and pandemic preparedness - An overview and negotiation simulation
•    Future agenda at the interface of intellectual property, diplomacy and global public health

This intensive three-day course will combine presentations, multistakeholder panels and an evening negotiation simulation providing a real-life backdrop for discussions. It is designed for individuals from diverse professional backgrounds, including health attachés, health and international relations professionals in departments of health, and staff in international organisations, NGOs, philanthropic organisations, and the private sector.

Course Co-Directors:

Professor Frederick M. Abbott, Florida State University College of Law, USA
Professor Nick Drager, The Graduate Institute, Switzerland

You can download the course flyer in pdf.

Watch video testimonials from participants on last year's course.

Find out more information on the course content, fee, and application process.

 Or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

EU development days on 26-27 November

On 26-27 November, the EU development days (eudevdays) will be held in Brussels. Organised by the European Commission, the eudevdays will address issues of development policy, the post 2015 agenda and sustainable development. Fore more information and web-streaming, click here:

Germany's Global Health Strategy: Available in English

The Global Health Strategy of the German Federal Government is now also available in English. It is entitled 'Shaping Global Health, Taking Joint Action, Embracing Responsibility'. You can donwload it here

Global Health MOOC starting on 7th October 2013

The University of Geneva is excited to announce the launch of its 8 week Massive Open Online Learning Course on 'Global Health: An Interdisciplinary Overview,' which commences on the Coursera Platform on the 7th October, 2013.

Anyone can register for this free online course via the following link:

The course presents a range of issues, trends, achievements and challenges for global health, from an interdisciplinary perspective. Thus we anticipate that students will benefit from the insights and perspectives of multiple contributors involved in global health research, teaching, policy and practice across disciplines and sectors. Moreover, students will benefit from each other's experience through the online interactive discussion forums.

The course is based around the following themes:
Week 1. Introduction to global health concepts
Week 2. Emerging trends in global health: Infectious diseases
Week 3. Emerging trends in global health: Non-communicable diseases, mental disorders and disability
Week 4. Governance for global health, health systems and financing
Week 5. Foreign policy, trade and health
Week 6. Research, development, innovation and technology for global health
Week 7. The environment, sustainable development and health

The course includes video presentations by a range of 36 experts from the University of Geneva and other organisations, plus a course guide and interactive online discussion forum activities. One third of presentations will be from presenters affiliated with other international institutions from Geneva and surrounds, including The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, the World Health Organisation, United Nations Development Program, World Trade Organisation, International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Medicines Patent Pool.

We currently have around 11,000 students from across the globe enrolled in this course. We encourage future enrolment in this course via the above link (enrolment is ongoing throughout the 8 week course).

Germany launches its global health strategy

 On July 10th, 2013 the German government launched its global health strategy entitled "Globale Gesundheitspolitik gestalten - Gemeinsam handeln - Verantwortung wahrnehmen" (Global Health Policy - Acting Together - recognizing responsibility). The goal of this concept is to make an active and consolidated contribution to solving the global health challenges of our time. As such it defines areas of action where Germany can play a vital role in improving health globally.

At the core of the German global health strategy are the following three principles: 

  • Protecting and improving health in Germany through global engagement
  • Recognizing Germany's global responsibility for health
  • Strengthening international institutions for global health

The German strategy identifies the following key global health issues:

  • Tackling cross border threats
  • Strengthening health systems worldwide
  • Ensuring intersectoral cooperation for health
  • Promoting and strengthening health research and the health economy
  • Strengthening the global health architecture

The document can be downloaded here: (available only in German)

The 66th Session of the World Health Assembly

WHO's Health Assembly, the world's largest health policy-making body opened its 66th Session in Geneva with around 3000 participants from around the world. Major health issues to be discussed include:

  • preventing and controlling noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancers and chronic lung disease;
  • monitoring of progress countries are making towards the Millennium Development Goals;
  • intensifying efforts to eradicate polio;
  • protecting more children from vaccine-preventable diseases;
  • supporting countries in their efforts to move forward with universal health coverage.

In her opening address to the Health Assembly, WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan noted that the world is facing challenging times, including financial crisis, job insecurity, armed conflicts and large numbers of people living on the edge, fearing for their lives.

"In these troubled times, public health looks more and more like a refuge, a safe harbor of hope that allows, and inspires, all countries to work together for the good of humanity," says Dr Chan.

Read more about the 66th World Health Assembly here.



Globalisation, EU policies and the impact on the Dutch Health System

The following text is an excerpt from a background note entitled: Globalisation, EU policies and the impact on the Dutch Health System, written by Remco van de Pas, global health advocate from Stichting Wemos, The Netherlands. The background document was used to inform a debate on 09 April on globalisation and the Dutch health system, organized by Wemos and the Netherlands Public Health Federation. Click here for the full background document.

[...] Many of the health problems that governments confront today transcend national borders and are part of a complex web of interdependence. The separation between domestic and foreign policy agendas has become blurred, and the new geopolitical constellations significantly affect the role and position of many countries in the European Region - indeed of Europe as a whole - in the global arena. Parts of Europe are becoming considerably poorer and have to make hard choices about health and health systems. To resolve these problems, health ministries find themselves working at several levels, with overlapping networks of actors with competing agendas, both at home and abroad. In the critical situation of economic downturn, it has become obvious that health ministries do not have much bargaining power. In an interdependent world, the economic effects of health and health security on other sectors and the whole of society are becoming increasingly evident and may even change the societal approach to health. As health issues affect other stakeholders negatively, they will increasingly call for governance and institutions that can respond and deliver a more efficient health system and improved health security. A recent example is the damage to the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan. The threat to human health being is the main factor in the international debate about controlling atomic energy (Kickbusch, 2012). [...]


Apply now: Executive Course on Global Health Diplomacy

The Global Health Programme at the Graduate Institute in Geneva is offering an intensive five-day course on Global Health Diplomacy. The course is offered in response to an increasing demand for new skills, as health moves beyond its purely technical realm to become an ever more critical element in foreign policy, security policy and trade agreements. Since 2007, more than 120 diplomats and health professionals have benefited from this course, which focuses on health diplomacy and negotiations, with a new thematic emphasis each year.

This year's course will explore current debates at the interface between foreign policy, trade and human rights, such as non-communicable diseases, the post-2015 development agenda, and access to medicines. Through a multidisciplinary learning process, academics and practitioners will share their expertise on health-related negotiations including international law mechanisms to develop new agreements. Negotiation simulations and skill-building activities will facilitate the real-life background discussion, along with a high-level introduction to the field of global health diplomacy and key challenges at the national, regional and global levels.

The course is aimed at applicants from different professional backgrounds, such as health attachés and other diplomats with a portfolio impacting on health, health and international relations professionals in departments of international health, as well as representatives of international organisations, NGOs, philanthropic organisations and the private sector.

Date: 1-5 July 2013
Venue: Geneva, Switzerland

Deadline for applications: Monday 1 April 2013.Click here for more information.


Congress summary: Global Health Governance at the European Health Forum Gastein

Global Health Governance was one of the key topics during last year's European Health Forum Gastein (EHFG). The EHFG is the leading health policy event in the EU and it provides a major platform for decision-makers from public health & health care. The official congress summary has now been published and is available online.

During the parallel session on Global Health Governance, the European approach to the global health issues of our time were discussed. A central element of the discussions was the acknowledgement that health has lost much of its national sovereignty. Globalisation and a complex network of actors and determinants require a different and novel approach to global health governance. However, bureaucratic challenges stemming from fragmented activities often hinder developments. The panellists agreed that WHO and the EU need to take responsibility to address the upcoming challenges by leading collaborations which promote health as a human right. This also requires working together with the private sector, which plays a large role in the current changes and power shifts in the global architecture.

High level speakers and panelists included Zsuszanna Jakab, Regional Director of the the WHO Regional Office for Europe, Marc Sprenger, Director of the European Center for Disease Control, Srinath Reddy, President of the Indian Public Health Foundation and Yang Gonghuan, the former Vice Director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control. Together with experts from the European Commission, the European External Action Service as well as from the Member States, industry and academia, all speakers provided excellent contributions to this highly dynamic and complex field.


What the Millennium Development Goals have accomplished

The following text is an excert of a well-informed article on the future of the Millennium Development Goals process, published by the Brookings Institution.

The [Millenium Development] goals will expire on December 31, 2015, and the debate over what should come next is now in full swing. This year, a high-level UN panel, co-chaired by British Prime Minister David Cameron, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, will put forward its recommendations for a new agenda. The United States and other members of the UN General Assembly will then consider these recommendations, with growing powers, such as Brazil, China, India, and Nigeria, undoubtedly playing a major role in forging any new agreement. But prior to deciding on a new framework, the world community must evaluate exactly what the MDG effort has achieved so far. Continue reading


Global Health Diplomacy: Concept, Issues, Actors, Instruments, Fora and Cases

A new book on Global Health Diplomacy, edited by Ilona Kickbusch, Graham Lister, Michaela Told and Nick Drager, has recently been published.

The book sets out defining principles for global health diplomacy and examines the current agenda of the field as well as relationships between the different diplomatic areas.


Featured topics include:

  • The legal basis of global health agreements and negotiations.
  • Global public goods as a foundation for global health diplomacy.
  • Global health: a human security perspective.
  • Health issues and foreign policy at the UN.
  • National strategies for global health.
  • South-south cooperation and other new models of development

By addressing the current key issues,Global Health Diplomacy is an essential text for public health experts and diplomats as well as schools of public health and international affairs. The textbook includes plentiful of examples, discussion questions, reading lists, and a glossary.

For more information, click here


Global health governance in practice: A global agreement on mercury control

This week the United Nationals Environment Programm (UNEP) successfully concluded a series of high-level multilateral negotiations to address the global threat posed to health and the environment by mercury. The text of a legally binding Treaty was finalized this week and is expected to be signed by over over 140 countries.

In summary, the treaty establishes a series of measures to protect human health and the environment, including controls on mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants and industry, as well as the use of mercury in mining. Further, the treaty sets a "phase out" date of 2020 for mercury thermometers and blood pressure measuring devices used in health care.

WHO reports that: "Mercury can produce a range of adverse human health effects, including permanent damage to the nervous system, in particular the developing nervous system. Due to these effects - and also because mercury can be passed from a mother to her unborn child, infants - children and women of child-bearing age are considered vulnerable populations".

Click here for the press release from the European Commission commenting on the treaty.

Click here for more information on the negotiation processes.

Click here for a commentary from WHO.

Additional information