Global Health Beyond-2015, hosted by the Swedish Society of Medicine, was a revitalizing meeting–taking the meaning of an engaging conference to another level. It was an epic event for Europe to gather the worlds “star” leaders in global health—bringing together the notorious Lancet editor—Richard Horton to the professor that has enchanted lecture halls of hundreds with his statistical analysis—Hans Rosling to the famous NCD couple—the Beagleholes and civil society champion—dear Lola Dare.
We were also graced with honorary members including Anders Nordstrom, whose commitment to global health spans decades of development, aid, and policy work and Sweden’s own guardian for a healthy planet–Lena Ek, Minister for the Environment. There were other unforgettable speakers—René Loewenson of TARSC, Zimbabwe, Mariam Claeson of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Johan Rockstrom of the Stockholm Resilience Centre.
The list continues with names and while all dazzling—they conveyed a greater message to the Stockholm community—that Global Health is everyone’s agenda, it is about healthy lives, healthy planet and that we can achieve this as part of our Post-2015 vision.
However, it was the numerous tweeters of Stockholm, Sweden and great global community though showing great admiration for these key messages, evoked an even more critical concern. Through the use of social media, the twitter chats and debates, there was space and recognition that fundamental questions regarding the principles, priorities, barrier, processes of a global health agenda beyond 2015 still remain unresolved. Over the course of the conference and the subsequent workshop, these voices, especially the voice of the audience, was gathered and integrated into the Stockholm Declaration on Global Health.
Having had the chance to have an input and reaction, as the younger generation, during the conference and the workshop, representing the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations—I am reflecting upon the messages I conveyed:
Post-2015 agenda should be:
- Universal, in other words, relevant to every society,
- Measurable and engage innovative ways to measure, including mobilizing all, resources, such as young people,
- Multi-sectorial, specifically, breaking the silos,
- Rights based, realizing that all people regardless of their socioeconomic-political situation have rights to achieving their maximum potential,
- and Equitable, focusing on reducing inequities and inequalities.
Medical Education should respond to the changing landscape of health:
- Training is compartmentalized and fragmented, with the greatest push being specialization, while health systems are being crippled by such an approach;
- Education lacks a holistic approach and societal approaches to health and well being such as global health, public health, and the development agenda are not part of any core medical curricula;
- Preparation fails to create competencies for inter-professional and multi-disciplinary collaboration;
- Incentives continue to encourage bench-science/hard science as the measure of success;
- Political will and push is for others, not health professionals, per the popular dogma in the community.
What are some global priorities?
- Corporate responsibility, accountability, transparency a discussion that rarely happens. Gerard Hastings, asked a question, Why corporate power is a public health priority? Economists and policy makers are not shy when saying and commanding how people should live their lives and how societies should work. Health professionals on the other hand are being left behind when sitting on a table to impose a why on societal organization and development policies that lead to a healthy community.
- Mental Health and Disability key contributors to global burden of diseases.
- Adolescent health and ageing populations, the largest growing group in many populations.
- Gender equality, beyond sexual reproductive health and rights, and seeing women as more than breeders, but as equal members of society.
- Environment and sustainable development (addressing climate change) as an essential aspect of achieving a future of healthy lives, and a healthy planet.
Young people are a vehicle for social change. They are more than advocates, but innovators. Closing the inter-generational gap begins with meaningful engagement and greater collaboration among young people and our leaders.
The question remains, now it has been two months since the conference, I find myself still asking what is beyond Global Health-Beyond 2015?
There have been several events from the large scales conferences of Women Deliver 2013; to the mid-size Sustainable Development Goals-Open Working Groups, post-2015 development agenda consultations and the decision-making gatherings the 66th World Health Assembly and the High Level Panel meetings. There have been countless civil society gatherings. There also has been a great deal happening at the local level—from on the groundwork to national agenda setting—but again the question a remains, what is next?
Through the messages conveyed in multiple settings, there is a convergence on a common denominator in the health community for beyond 2015—universal health coverage and access, health systems strengthening, and maximizing health at all stages of life—while keeping in mind principles of universality, human rights, equity, gender equality, accountability and sustainability.
However, the question of what is beyond Global-Health Beyond 2015 remains? Only clear response, we as, medical students, have to be advocates for encouraging greater dialogue and commitments on global health.
The Stockholm Declaration for Global Health
Photos: Courtesy of Svenska Läkaresällskapet.
1 Byass P. Is global health really global? Glob Health Action 2013; 6: 20671.
2 Horton R. Offline: The Stockholm Syndrome. Lancet 2013; 381: 1260
3 Byass P, Friberg P, Blomstedt Y, Wall S. Beyond 2015: time to reposition
Scandinavia in global health? Glob Health Action 2013; 6: 20903.
www.thelancet.com Vol 381 June 15, 2013
4. Hasting G. Why corporate power is a public health priority. BMJ 2012;345:e5124 doi:10.1136/bmj.e5124
Written by: Roopa Dhatt