Creating a global health policy worthy of the name

DPF28 February 2011

The Development Policy Forum (DPF) of the Brussels based Friends of Europe think tank together with the EU-wide policy journal Europe's World has launched a special publication devoted to the subject of the global health policy in the EU. Professor Ilona Kickbusch, Chair of the Global Health Europe Task Force, was asked to contribute to this report with a short perspective piece on how the EU can create a global health policy worthy of the name. Professor Kickbusch argues that European countries, together with the European Commission, have an opportunity through the recently adopted Communication and Conclusions on the EU Role in Global Health to take the lead in shifting understanding of global health to include the provision of global public goods for health. This means developing strong and inclusive institutions for global health governance through strengthening and reforming the World Health Organisation.


A turning point for global health governance

IK_HighRes_cropped03 February 2011

Health diplomacy for the 21st century

News coverage of last week's meeting of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) missed the new sense of purpose and willingness of member states to address politically complex issues head-on and work towards acceptable compromises in the interest of global health.

This was exemplified in the negotiation of a proposal from the African group of countries to institute a policy of rotation between geographic regions for the election of future Director Generals of the WHO. The issue could have led to political deadlock on the board, but it was artfully avoided through a deft show of statesmanship and above all a collective desire to see the board succeed in its work.



Health Education in Europe - Response to the report of the Lancet Global Commission

bondjers226 January 2011

A Lancet Commission recently presented a report on the education of health professionals in the future. Of the 20 members of the Commission only one is from Europe. This may reflect the limited contributions of Europe in previous reforms of professional training. Further development of education is now necessary in view of new challenges to health. The significance of interdisciplinary collaboration and global health training are emphasised in the report. The new generation of reforms should be competency-driven and adaptive to local challenges but in a global perspective. Europe should not take a back seat in this essential process.


Global health knowledge production

1 December 2010

For the ordinary citizen, health is a major concern. This is true in countries at all different income levels. Obviously, society at large sets many of the conditions for maintaining health, with an increasingly complex background. In Europe values of equity, solidarity and access to quality health-care are important components of this back-ground. Europe, being one of the major financial markets globally has not been very effective in promoting these values globally. It may also be argued that Europe has not taken its global responsibility as seriously as should be anticipated. Today organizations like EU, UN and WHO express the political will to include health issues in a broader global perspective. To live up to these ambitions, it is essential that Europe has the professional knowledge that is required.


India, Brazil and South Africa make a stand on falsified and substandard medicines

ibsa_0121 October 2010

Last week the Permanent Missions to the UN in Geneva of India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) held a seminar to explore the current challenges and long-term solutions to the issue of falsified and substandard medicines. Whatever you call them, (and the overlooked nuances between definitions is partly the problem), the issue of "counterfeit", falsified, spurious, and substandard medicines will prove to be a divisive one in the coming years. On the surface this issue is about access to medicines and the realization of the right to health, it is about protecting populations from increasingly sophisticated international criminals who endanger people's lives and undermine confidence in already fragile health systems. But it is also about deeply vested business interests with a whole lot of money hanging in the balance.


What does global health have to do with foreign policy? Hillary Clinton: "everything"

clintonsais19 August 2010

On 16 August 2010, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took time out of her busy schedule to speak about the Obama administration's Global Health Initiative (GHI) to faculty and students at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). With so many crises in the world, what was a Secretary of State doing speaking about global health? "Some might accuse me of taking a little break from those crises to come to SAIS to talk about global health," joked Clinton, "what exactly does maternal health, or immunizations, or the fight against HIV and AIDS have to do with foreign policy? Well, my answer is everything."



Time to rethink the mission of European medical schools?

medical_research03 August 2010

In her blog article "Rethinking the mission of medical schools", Jemma Weymouth summarizes a recent debate which asks whether US medical schools are producing the health workforce that America needs. The recent study that sparked this debate did so by ranking US medical schools in an innovative and highly provocative way: on the extent to which they accomplish a "social mission": producing doctors who practice primary care, work in underserved areas and are minorities underrepresented among health professionals. This debate is made all the more pressing as the US prepares for an influx of newly-insured patients under health reform. Europe is also at a point where the health needs of its citizens are changing in ways that surpass the missions' of medical schools created to cope with 20th century challenges. Are European medical schools producing a health workforce capable to tackle Europe's future health needs?


What's Next for G20 in Global Health and Development?: Chatham House

506 July 2010

For those who expected that the baton would be passed from G8 to G20, that wider engagement of middle income countries would herald a human rights based approach to health and development and that global governance would be transformed, this Chatham House meeting brought a useful dose of realism. G8 will remain an important focus for the global health and development agenda. G20 is unlikely to address human rights, health is unlikely to be central to its agenda, the voices of civil society organisations are not expected to be heard at its meetings and there is little prospect of better connection with the UN system. This is a personal perspective of a truly fascinating meeting, for an authoritative view check the web site at:


The G8 and global health: getting hip with the times

2 July 2010

p-017279-00-29h1Despite rumours to the contrary, last week's G8 meeting in Muskoka, Canada confirmed to the world that this highly influential club of powerful countries plus the EU has no intention of being phased out in the near future. While their influence on global economic affairs has been eclipsed by the G20, the G8 will remain an influential forum to address the most pressing issues in development, peace and global security (Summit Conclusions). This year has brought a totally new element into play: the first ever G8 accountability report. The Muskoka Accountability Report, commissioned at the 2009 L'Aquila Summit, aims to assess actions taken and their results against the commitments that the G8 has made for development over the last 30 years.


The 10 challenges of global health governance

ilona28 June 2010

In a presentation delivered at the June 2010 "Global Health: Together we can make it" conference in Brussels, Professor Ilona Kickbusch, Director of the Global Health Programme at the Graduate Institute, Geneva and Chair of the Global Health Europe Task Force, summarized the key challenges that have to be tackled in order to improve global governance for health.


The Global Flu Pandemic Aftermath: Council of Europe Report

Flynn07 June 2010

The EU Commission launches its consultation on "Strengthening European Union Preparedness on Pandemic Influenza" against a background of accusations that the threat of this pandemic was overstated and that European countries (with the exception of Poland) were persuaded to invest too much in stocks of anti-viral medicines. This controversy was fuelled by the revelations published in the BMJ that WHO guidance issued in 2004 was authored by three scientists who had previously received payment for other work from Roche, which makes Tamiflu, and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which produces Relenza. The report by Paul Flynn, a UK Member of Parliament, on ''The handling of the H1N1 pandemic: more transparency needed'' which was adopted by the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe Assembly at its meeting in Paris on 4 June raises even more questions.


Deepwater Horizon, Bhopal and The Niger Delta : what have we learnt?

07 June 2010

In the Gulf of Mexico the blow out beneath BP's oil rig has revealed just how little regulation was provided by the US Minerals Management Service. It now seems likely that BP, an international giant formed as the result of a merger between the Amoco (formerly Standard Oil) and British Petroleum Companies, will be held to account for a final bill of up to $20 Billion.


Even with Lisbon treaty, rotating presidency may continue to lead the EU in global health


It is a big misunderstanding that the rotating presidency will be abolished with the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty. In fact, the rotating presidency will continue to exist outside the European Council, in which the heads of the EU states meet and the Foreign Affairs Council, which will be chaired and represented by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR; Catherine Ashton).



Open Letter to the European Health Community


20 November 2009

Dear colleagues and friends,

I am pleased to welcome you to this ‘transition process' website, which is one element of a formal and informal process I am initiating to explore ways of adapting the WHO Regional Office for Europe to the changing European environment. I am launching this site to share with you my vision for the WHO European Office and, importantly, to hear your views and suggestions about this vision and a number of priority action issues.


Additional information