GHF2010 – PL04 – Global Health Governance: Lost in Translation?

Session Outline

Plenary session PL04, Tuesday, April 20 2010, 17:45-19:15, Room 2
Chair(s): Jean Freymond, President, Network for Governance, Entrepreneurship, and Development (GE&D), Switzerland
Panel:Krishnan Ganapathy, President, Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation; President Elect, Telemedicine Society of IndiaOlivier Raynaud, Senior Director, Global Health and Healthcare Sector, World Economic Forum SwitzerlandKumanan Rasanathan, Technical Officer, Department of Ethics, Equity, Trade and Human Rights, World Health Organization, Geneva, SwitzerlandGaudenz Silberschmidt, Deputy Director, Swiss Federal Office of Public Health

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Session Report

In today's session on Global Health Governance (GHG) the panellists introduced many important views, challenges and visions pertaining to global health. A panellist stated that, "Health is too important an issue to be left in the hands of health experts."

“The topic we will address today is the most important one,” stated chair of the panel, Mr. Freymond. He then added that the global health system was entering a period of radical change, and that the present transformations were only the beginning of many future changes.

Senior Director of the Global Health and Healthcare Sector for the World Economic Forum, Olivier Raynaud, gave a presentation on factorsaffecting health outcomes. He proposed three procedural layers as possible answers. First, he suggested that there should be an invitation to those who contribute to health, to make more of a contribution. He then added that water, education and food are only some of the factors with direct consequences for health which need addressing. The second procedural layer would be measurement of contributions in order to provide data. The third layer which Mr. Raynaud characterised as crucial, is the need for incentives and cooperation which will create informed and data based policies to improve health. He concluded by stating that health is a shared objective and a shared responsibility.

Mr. K. Rasamathan, a Technical Officer at the World Health Organization (WHO), shed light on the continuing global inequalities concerning health. Without trying to engage inequalities at the core of the health agenda, no progress is possible. Factors such as migration, trade and social determinants are at the root of health inequalities. He acknowledged improvements in the field of health and underlined the fact that there is more recognition of the right to health and more initiatives which view health from a holistic perspective.

For K. Ganapathy, a neuro-surgeon based in India, Information Technology (IT) will be very important in the future of global health over the next ten years. He predicts that conventional hospitals as we know them will soon be non-existent or unimportant as they are replaced by E-Health. Conventional health methods are ineffective and too costly for developing nations and Dr. Ganapathy illustrated the leaps in progress IT has already made in healthcare in his native India. With just a simple function such as Short Messaging System (SMS), information can be received in remote areas or even sent to be analysed in the Central Health Office in New Delhi. Dr. Ganapathy concluded by stating that by 2020 E-Health will be a practical reality and that Global Health Governance is possible only if IT is regarded as an integral part of healthcare.

Representing the WHO, Mr. Cassels presented his views in regard to GHG. He introduced the  main issues and challenges in integrating th WHO into the emerging Global Health Governance process. Mr. Cassels stressed the legitimacy of the WHO and the importance of such legitimacy in conducting and securing the best results for global health. He ended by emphasising the importance of the consulting process that has begun within the WHO, as it grapples with present global transformations. Lastly, he questioned whether the WHO is consolidating itself in the 21st century or not.

Another challenge in thinking about Global Health Governance was raised by Mr. Silverschmidt. He began by explaining the importance of the Westphalia Order, which signalled the creation of nation states, because states today are gradually disappearing due to globalisation. He then emphasised the present global shift and the emergence of India as a key player. He pointed out that in order for GHG to be efficient the creation of coherent policies is important. Mr. Silverschmidt then asserted that incoherence of actions and ideas at the global level is the main challenge when creating effective Global Health Governance. The responsibility for such incoherence rests with national governments and the sovereignty of different organisations which sometimes do not share information. Governments especially need to interact more in order to facilitate policy implementation. Finally, the speaker emphasised the fact that health services are going to be globalised.

Mr. Freymond concluded the session by stating that indeed, we are at a period where breakthrough is needed and that collective work and the sharing of knowledge is a necessity. Moreover, everyone’s input is important and as this is global governance, global sharing is part of the process. Finally, he pointed out that the most important objective and concern, is the patient and the assurance of keeping individuals out of harms way and out of pain.

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