IHP news #509 (February 15, 2019)

Now that the Zeitgeist is shifting, quo vadis Global health ?

By on February 15, 2019



Dear Colleagues,

It’s getting clearer by the day that the structural/systemic fight of our age  is the one for a  Green New Deal (in the AOC version, that is), at national and global level. Scientific journals and mainstream newspapers are publishing increasingly about upcoming ‘perfect storms’ and the risk of systemic collapse, this clearly ain’t the MDG era anymore.   Some even claim, not inaccurately, this is no longer ‘climate change’ we’re living through, ours is actually the age of ‘environmental breakdown.  Systemic (policy) answers will thus be needed. And they’re rather urgent.

On that merry note, over to the Replenishments of global health funds. This week, the UK announced it will host the GAVI replenishment   in 2020 (let’s hope there’s a Labour government by then, and that vaccines can still reach the UK itself 😊). The Global Fund replenishment kick-off meeting in Delhi   end of last week didn’t really grasp our rapidly changing times yet (see the first paragraph), with exception of the (spot-on) understanding that more domestic revenue for health will and should be (part of ) the future. Dr Tedros fully supports the replenishment,  and as one of the sharpest Twitter voices pointed out, for the occasion, Tedros’ excellent speechwriter even came up with a rhetorical device John F Kennedy used to great effect in the past – “ …the question is not whether the world can afford to invest in the Global Fund — it’s whether the world can afford not to. “ Not quite sure it’ll work to the same extent this time.

More domestic health spending was also one of the key messages at the Africa Leadership Meeting: Investing in Health   convened prior to the 32nd AU meeting (9 Feb) in Addis Ababa (& accompanying Addis Ababa Call to action).  A few days later, at the Africa Business Health Forum (12 Feb), the many virtues of involving the private sector more were highlighted (duh).  By the way, Addis was a rather busy place this week, with also the First International Food Safety conference taking place there.

Earlier this week, for once, I felt in sync with Bill & Melinda Gates, when I saw the title of their annual letter,  ‘We didn’t see this coming’. Upon reading their analysis of the world, and the way forward, our brief moment of total harmony brutally ended, though. But I have deep respect for their heartfelt commitment for the poor, and impressive track record of the Foundation.  In this issue, you also find some analysis of the Decolonizing Global Health Conference in Harvard last week, among others from Werner Soors ( see our 2nd editorial this week) and Renzo Guinto (who writes faster than Lucky Luke can shoot).

But we leave you with the – in our view accurate & uplifting assessment of Rutger Bregman (after his Davos visit), “…  never before have I had such a strong feeling that the zeitgeist is really shifting and now you can talk about things that were simply not possible just a couple of years ago. It seems like the window of what is politically possible is just opening up …”  Well, at least in the “North”, I’d say.

For that, among others, we owe Greta Thunberg. As somebody (around my age, I think), put it on Twitter, earlier this week: “When I grow up, I want to be like Greta Thunberg”.  That sums it up nicely.

Enjoy your reading.

Kristof Decoster



(you find the pdf of this newsletter here: IHPn509 )

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