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Health: More cohesion for the EC, but how?

The fact that the European Commission hosted a conference to discuss and assert their role in global health should be celebrated.

A range of stakeholders were involved alongside high level speakers such as Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The stated objectives were to drive forward coherence and define recommendations for taking the Commission’s Communique forward.

The major messages coming out of the conference were all very positive: the need to improve cohesion on policy approaches across the plethora of actors in global health; to extend Europe’s shared values of solidarity and equity; for health to be present in multi-sectoral policies; and the importance of targeting poor and vulnerable communities.

The consensus to remove user fees for essential services has finally been reached (as mentioned in the Communique), and was reiterated by Rob Yates from DfID with a succinct presentation of the removal of user fees on the 27th April this year in Sierra Leone, where queues of women and children formed as clinics that were formerly empty filled.

In discussions of global health governance, the WHO was asserted as the leader of global health in its normative capacity, setting standards, sharing best practices, and the potential for it to provide an inclusive forum to encourage cohesion across a wide range of stakeholders.

This is all very promising, but perhaps the objectives of the conference were over ambitious. It was too big an event for specific, applicable action points to be reached.

As the conference drew to an end, broad messages were listed but no concrete action plans were made. We want to see such encouraging resolutions translated into practice: it is time to implement!

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