EC Global Health Policy Forum 9 September: A Personal Reflection
- Category: Event Reports
The Global Health Policy Forum is a series of meetings which provide an opportunity for representatives of various civil society groups with an interest in global health to meet the EC policy team from DG SANCO, DG DEV and DG RTD. It combines feedback on progress in pursuing the aims set out in "EU's Role in Global Health" updates on civil society led initiatives and an exploration of issues such as aid effectiveness and health system strengthening.
The recent meeting provided feedback from the June High Level Event on Global Health, an outline plan of action for the EC Inter Service Group on Global Health and brief introductions to a variety of ongoing events and actions including a residential seminar of EU health and development experts, the UN global strategy on maternal and child health and Red Cross initiatives in discussing the role of parliamentarians in West and Central Africa in planning and monitoring health budgets and MDGs report from a retreat for civil society delegations. This was all very interesting but difficult to take in at a large meeting which more than filled a room designed for fifty or so people. It would be helpful to draw all this information together on a web site as we are trying to do.
We then heard a presentation on Global Health issues in Cambodia, seen through the lens of a parliamentary field visit, hosted by civil society groups. Of course such visits can only give a snapshot impression of complex issues but it did seem to have left an impression on the EU delegates from all political persuasions.
The main course for the meeting was a presentation of the study on aid effectiveness by Action for Global Health: IHP+ consultative group coupled with a discussion of the Health Systems Funding Platform presented by speakers from GAVI and the Global Fund. In general the room welcomed both initiatives and recognised the problems raised: too many agency, too many plans, separate funding mechanisms and paralell processes. What seemed less clear was why there should be two apparently similar attempts to solve the same problem, particularly since the agencies involved in the HSFP are a subset of those involved in IHP+.
Perhaps it was a matter of presentation but it struck me that in all the discussion about coordination between international aid agencies, the role of partner country: Ministries of Health, Professional Organisations, Research and Training Institutions and Civil Society Groups seemed rather overlooked. Thus while the solutions to aid coordination put forward by HSFP are laudible I would be more comfortable if their starting point was the strengthening of partner country capacity to innovate, plan and develop their own health systems.
Overall the Global Health Policy Forum is finding a useful role, it is focussing on those issues that require common EU action, such as the code of practice for health workforce recruitment, aid effectiveness, health system strengthening and building civil society and community health. It may go on to consider issues such as governance and anti -corruption measures. But in addition to such issues there are wider determinants of global health such as the impact of climate change on health, trade impacts on health and conflict and health. These are all issues on which civil society has a role in raising awareness and mobilising action.