Friends of the Global Fund Europe, co-organizer of several events of the Festival of Global Health in Padua, Italy, announces that, due to the COVID-19 global emergency, the 2020 edition scheduled for 2-5 April , has been postponed to 12-15 November.

Global Health does not only mean talking about medicine, but also about the relationship between diseases and globalization, environmental and animal health, human mobility, unequal health systems, climate change and global governance. These are just some of the key issues that will be discussed at the Festival of Global Health from 12 to 15 November 2020, where leading Italian and international experts will come together at what is perhaps Italy’s most important gathering focusing on the variety  of responses (whether medical, economic, political or cultural) to epidemiological events of great impact such as the coronavirus.

“What is happening in these days,” says Stefano Vella, scientific co-director of the Festival and vice-president for Italy of Friends of the Global Fund Europe, “reminds us that traditional methods to deal with epidemic emergencies are no longer sufficient and underlines the importance of shared action, the need and the duty to be prepared to face the challenges of our time. New epidemics, like the major epidemics of the past, remind us that germs do not need a passport to travel. We have read about the plague, cholera and smallpox epidemics in history books; we have experienced it with Spanish flu, AIDS and Ebola, Sars, H1N1 flu and Zika. And now, the rapid global spread of the new Coronavirus infection (COVID-19) makes it clear that a collective effort is needed between public and private research to quickly develop a vaccine, as was done for Ebola. Unfortunately, given the time needed for vaccine-testing, it does not seem that a vaccine will be available soon, and most likely not for the current outbreak. Therefore, the development of antiviral drugs capable of treating people with chronic medical conditions and who are at higher risk of getting sick from the virus would be more urgent. Some experimental data on drugs already developed for Ebola and MERS (another coronavirus infection) suggest that they may work on COVID-19. But other drugs are in development and we have no doubt that they will eventually become available.”

“Today more than ever,” continues Vella “we know that human health is deeply interconnected with that of the entire planet, and that we must be concerned about the factors related to the increasing human mobility, the ability of viruses and bacteria to adapt, the impact of conflicts and growing inequalities on access to health, which increase the vulnerabilities, because human health—individually and collectively—is interconnected and can only be defined in global terms. To those who asked what global health was, global health is this: the strong interdependence of human health on environmental, economical, social and cultural factors. And the research and action for international health security, for the fight against inequalities, for the right to health for all in a globalized world.”

Thus, the festival in November will feature serious and timely discussions on globalization as a key driver of development but also as a potential risk for the spread of infectious diseases, chronic diseases and environmental damage; on crisis management and preparedness (i.e. the set of concrete actions, based on research, taken as precautionary measures to adequately cope with potential disasters, whether epidemics or sudden natural disasters, as will happen more and more frequently due to climate change); on the tools and resources we currently have available to act; on how to make medicines and basic health services accessible to all; on how to continue the research for new medicines and vaccines, by fostering effective public-private partnerships; on fighting inequalities and combating climate change; on how we should strengthen our health systems in order to be ready for the coming emergencies, and how to strengthen our civic awareness and consciousness.

In short, we will talk about how to really start thinking and acting in terms of Global Health in Padua, Italy, from 12 to 15 November.

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Read the Italian version of the press release