Addressing global health issues locally

Recently a three day- workshop were conducted on global health diplomacy to enable health officials and focal officials in relevant agencies to understand and learn about the global health architecture including global health security, the roles of the actors, stakeholders and interest groups involved in global health governance and diplomacy.

The objective of the workshop is also to learn the processes, legal instruments and governance mechanisms to address current global health challenges, the complexities and opportunities in global health negotiations, the methods and challenges involved in addressing cross-cutting issues and their implication on human health and the associations and networks of similar countries in the Global South working in this field.

Tashi Chozom from PPD, Ministry of health said “Global health diplomacy is important for the health sector because we are witnessing a transition in the global health arena with health issues increasingly entering the foreign policy domain with myriad of actors involved. Health has become a transnational issue with an increase in human mobility.”

She also said that disease outbreaks in recent years clearly demonstrate this and outbreaks of various epidemics such as SARS, Influenza H1N1 and Ebola have shown the world how infectious diseases can spread rapidly threatening economic growth, peace and development across many countries.

Moreover, in a world mostly driven by neo-liberal policies, free market economies have transformed health systems in many countries, often with adverse impacts on human health, she said.

“This is why it becomes pertinent for the health sector to understand the direct and underlying impacts of international/regional trade on health, and also the social, economic and political considerations of global health policies and plans,” she added.

In view of the changes and the challenges reflected above, it is crucial for health officials holding key positions (decision and policy makers) to understand the combined role of states, intergovernmental organizations, non-state actors, transnational companies and civil society organizations to negotiate responses to global health challenges that ultimately have repercussions on national plans and policies.

She said, “The officials also need the skills and knowledge to comprehend the social, economic and political considerations of global health policies and plans.” Moreover, it is timely and appropriate to recognize that diplomacy and foreign policy no longer reside solely with the traditional diplomats, but over the years, the need has been felt for officials in the MoH holding strategic position to engage effectively with global health partners at various forums.

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