Commitment in all spheres

Commitment in all spheres

Sustainable progress is only possible by addressing the key determinants of health, which span myriad areas – from health institutions to big data to individual cities – and pledging strong, reliable governance

The current COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted global health into the political domain at both national and international levels. It has reinforced the consistent message of the World Health Summit that progress in global health is based on political choices and the application of the policymaking instruments of governments and international institutions worldwide.

As a unique global forum, the World Health Summit has brought together stakeholders from around the world to engage in proposing solutions. We consider strong and reliable governance – at global, national and local levels – as an essential prerequisite for health and well-being and for addressing the determinants of health. The pandemic yet again shows that only through integrating social, economic and environmental factors, as proposed by the Sustainable Development Goals, will it be possible to achieve the transformative change required to secure long-term human and planetary health.

Commitment to strong global health institutions

The world needs strong institutions to set norms and standards to be able to respond effectively to outbreaks. This includes addressing health determinants and protecting the most vulnerable. This work needs the support of decision makers at the highest level. It is essential that health remains a key issue in major political forums such as the G7 and the G20 and in all regional organisations. The support to the World Health Organization is a critical factor – and the World Health Summit is proud to count the director general of the WHO as one of its patrons.

Health security, antimicrobial resistance and the health impact of climate change, One Health and ‘Health in All Policies’ reach far beyond the health sector and need the involvement of heads of state and government and other stakeholders. A proactive approach must be a cornerstone, because a cycle of panic and neglect will have only negative effects on all socio-economic factors and the stability of world order.

Commitment to ensure global health security and social security

The COVID-19 pandemic has once again shown that the world is not yet ready to respond adequately to a major pandemic threat. The implementation of the International Health Regulations must continue with vigour and strong financial support. Investments in science and innovation as well as in public health institutions and capacity are critical. Investments are also needed to strengthen social protection of people worldwide. This requires synergies between national, regional and global action, between public and private actors, and between development and humanitarian organisations. We have found the role of regional organisations such as the European Union and the African Union to be ever more important in the political decision-making for global health.

Commitment to healthy and resilient cities

Cities are becoming transformative drivers of sustainable development and key actors in global health. Health can only be achieved at a local level if international policies are coupled with an increasing number of city initiatives and networks that support health. Mayors too must give attention to the social determinants of health and their impacts on the next generation of children and young people. Their challenge is to act for health locally and integrate health into urban planning, housing investment and social policy decisions as cities continue to grow and change.

Commitment to responsible approaches to big data

The digital future of health has only just begun. Data are increasingly a cornerstone of our societies and of our health care. International organisations and policymakers need to invest in the digital potential of health systems and rapidly and systematically address the ethical, commercial, regulatory and technical challenges that come with this change. Big Data and artificial intelligence can bridge the gap between healthcare delivery and population health and can improve many health outcomes through enhanced methods of research. The entry of new big tech players in the health space requires new governance approaches.

Commitment to research, innovation and development

Scientific progress and innovation in health research drive global health practice. The World Health Summit prides itself in its links with some of the most prestigious research organisations worldwide through the M8 Alliance. In global health, the development of vaccines offers one of the best means for protection from communicable pathogens. Important initiatives are emerging to address the challenge of antimicrobial resistance and the challenge of non-communicable disease. Part of such an effort must be the support to institutions and capacity-building in the global South, and strong cooperation and knowledge networks that span the globe.

Commitment to innovation and health systems strengthening in Africa

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals for health will require significant innovations, investments and partnerships with low- and middle-income countries, especially in Africa. We look forward to the contributions of the regional WHS in Kampala, Uganda, in June 2021. A new generation of well-trained scientists and health professionals stands ready if there are institutions within which they can work and serve. Domestic investment will play an ever more important role – cooperation among African countries as in other regions of the world will be more important than ever before.

Professional organisations can actively contribute to this development. Strategies to develop a highly competent health workforce, manage workforce migration and circulation, and involve diasporas of professionals and scientists will gain in relevance. First successes in Africa show that progress is possible – they must be stepped up and supported.

The global health community has reinforced its strong message that determined political leadership is required to counteract forces that endanger global health progress. It is of central importance that all actors in global health renew their full commitment to make health a political priority and to support SDG 3 – sustainable progress is only possible by addressing the key determinants of health.