GHF2008 – PS25 – Global Health: A European Perspective

Session Outline

Parallel session PS25, Wednesday, May 28 2008, 14:00-15:30, Room 3
Chair(s): Ilona Kickbusch, Director, Global Health Programme, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Switzerland, Jacques Martin, Counsellor, Health and Development, Swiss Permanent Mission to the UN, Swiss Confederation
EU Policies on Health: A Global Perspective 
Matti Rajala, Minister Counsellor, European Commission, Permanent Delegation to the International Organisations in Geneva, Switzerland 
Swiss Health Foreign Policy
Gaudenz Silberschmidt, Vice Director, Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, Head of International Affairs Division, Switzerland 
Civil Society and NGOs Building a Campaign for Global Health
Stephan Kreischer, Policy Advisor, Global Health, Action for Global Health, Germany 
The Case of Sexual and Reproductive Health: Un-Simultaneities, Threats, and Opportunities
Elke Thoss, Executive Director, ProFamilia, Germany

Session Documents

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Session Report

Submitted by: Cathy Matovu (ICVolunteers)

European health care systems have proved to be effective and have established standards that have successfully aided the development of health in european countries. This session highlighted the role of the European Union in the improvement of global health and the structural changes that should be made within European health systems in order to promote health and increase the effectiveness of aid around the world.

Europe is the largest aid donor in the world, giving an average of 52% of global aid. Financial resources in this part of the world are in abundance but many argue that Europe is not doing enough to achieve the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) by 2015. Stephan Kreischer, Policy Advisor at Action for Health in Germany agreed saying, "There have been a series of collaborative global initiatives which say that they will reach the MDGs by 2015, however, there are too many different initiatives and this makes it harder to keep track of them." In effect, the numerous GHIs (Global Health Initiatives) currently existing create problems of coordination and cause the ineffectiveness of the global aid structure. Kreischer proposed the reduction of GHIs and better collaboration among donors.

As a host country to the Health Forum, Switzerland is key in health and is concerned not only for the health of the Swiss population but for all people in the world. Gaudenz Silberschmidt, Vice Director of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, discussed global health in relation to health in Switzerland. "Through comparisons with other health systems in Europe, Switzerland wants to continue to develop the Swiss health system," he said. Insisting on the importance of collaboration between governments, Silberschmidt mentioned the recent bilateral agreement between Switzerland and the European Union to cooperate more closely in the health care area. He further mentioned that the country's main goal is to consolidate and strengthen Geneva's position as an international center for care. "Geneva is, and should remain, the health capital of the world," he maintained.

Another area that was discussed during the session was the importance of sexual and reproductive health. As an area often neglected in the global health debate, Elke Thoss, Executive Director of ProFamilia Germany, and Matti Rajala, Minister Counsellor of the European Commission in Geneva, gave us a few elements on the reasons why this particular aspect of health care is essential. Thoss explained that sexual and reproductive health services are very low funded. This largely contributes to the increase of diseases and mortality rates in remote areas. Policies regarding this area, she explained, are extremely strict and influence the provision of health care and support. On the issue, Rajala said that sexual health is "one of the key cornerstones of global health policies." He concluded by saying that there must be a relationship between economic growth and health investment in order for there to be development. "These are areas that can be in synergy and can develop together," he ended.

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