Fourth Global Health Policy Forum

On 14 January 2010 the European Commission inter-service working group on global health held its fourth Global Health Policy Forum with external stakeholders in Brussels. The monthly informal "brown bag lunches" hosted by the Commission's directorates for development cooperation (DG DEV), public health (DG SANCO) and Research (DG RTD) have grown to become a focal point for discussions with the Commission on the drafting of an EU policy on global health expected in 2010, as well as for knowledge sharing among stakeholders.

Co-chaired by DG RTD and Action for Global Health/Stop AIDS Alliance, the fourth instalment of the forum saw presentations by MSF and UNICEF on removing user fees for health services in developing countries. The Commission then shared news on the current state of its anticipated Communication on global health. During last year's consultation on the EU role in Global Health the Commission received 106 responses. Later this week a combined summary of the responses will be available online. The Commission circulated a draft outline of the upcoming communication and an indicative roadmap of events that it's hoped will lead to the Communications adoption by the EU. Key events in this process include:

  • 27 January: Completion of first drafts of the Communication and four associated Staff Working Documents (on democratic and inclusive governance for global health; equitable and universal coverage of essential health care; improving EU coherence; knowledge and global health);
  • 27 January - 8 March: internal Commission discussions and consultations;
  • 24 March: adoption of the Communication by the College of Commissioners;
  • 10 - 11 May: Council conclusions at the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC)/Development Ministers session-where the communication will be discussed in the Council and hopefully adopted;
  • and 10 - 11 June: High Level Event on Global Health, Brussels.

The culminating meetings on 10 - 11 June will bring together senior officials and experts to discuss future work related to the Communication. On the 10th there will be three parallel sessions on equity, coherence and governance, and access to medicines. The objectives of these sessions are to produce topic summaries that are to be presented on the 11th to high-level stakeholders-the purpose being to obtain political support for the Communication and recommendations coming out of the expert meeting on the 10th. The Commission will set up a web page dedicated to this event where there will be more information on participants and registration.

The Spanish Presidency stands behind the EU efforts for improved global health policy

During the meeting representatives from the Spanish EU Presidency declared their support for this Communication and the initiative of the above mentioned Commission services for creating this open forum with stakeholders. Spain acknowledges an interdisciplinary approach to global health and wishes to do more to bridge communication between its ministries of health and foreign affairs for global health. Furthermore, Spain hopes to expand upon the Swedish Presidency's accomplishments in EU-US collaboration for global health by broadening the partnership from Antimicrobial Resistance to other areas. In 2010 the Commission plans to adopt communications on global health, food security, gender, fiscal governance, and education. Incidentally the US is also expected to adopt strategies on global health and food security this summer, signalling an opportune moment to forge and alliance for better global governance.

The future of the Global Health Policy Forum

Interest in the Global Health Policy Forum has increased steadily over the last four months and attendance has grown to the point that the Commission will have to re-think how they will organise future meetings. They may have to explore options for online participation or consider having thematic sub-sections which meet separately. While the commission should be lauded for this exercise in inter-sector cooperation and transparency, it must be noted that the platform is largely a forum for Brussels based development actors who have easier access to the forum. Continuing the forum in an online format would allow for wider contributions from across Europe and differing interests.

The next Global Health Policy Forum is planned for 11 February.

Additional information