« We, the People », the preparatory conference to the World Health Summit in Berlin
The “We, the People” WHS Preparatory Conference, orchestrated by Friends of the Global Fund Europe, served as a foundational event to precede the World Health Summit.
The conference took place on October 14, 2023 in Berlin and saw participation from a range of stakeholders, including civil society representatives, parliamentarians, NGOs, academia, and think tanks. It was centered on the premise of health as a human right and sought to refine the quality of global health debates, amplify the voices of marginalized communities, and advocate for the Global Fund’s inclusive decision-making model as a standard for health democracy.
The conference delved into the evolving role of the Global Fund, highlighting the necessity for it to adapt its governance to address contemporary challenges such as climate change and pandemics, all while contending with the issue of limited resources. The shrinking space for civil society due to restrictive legislation and funding cuts was a point of concern, prompting discussions on the need for new supportive structures and collaborative efforts between civil society and lawmakers. The importance of engaging key populations was underscored, with Ukraine’s legislative advancements in HIV and Tuberculosis cited as a positive development.
However, the conference recognized that strategies effective in specific contexts might not be universally applicable, calling for more adaptable approaches. The future of global health architecture was a major theme, with discussions centering on the need for equitable health solutions that transcend donor dominance and commercial interests. The conference looked forward to events like the 2024 World Sustainability Conference as opportunities to reshape global health strategies. Intersectionality emerged as a complex facet of global health, with the influence of international funding on policies, such as anti-LGBTQ+ laws, being critically examined. The conference stressed the importance of distinguishing between government-led and country-led initiatives to ensure that health programs are inclusive and representative. The sustainability of communities in the context of global health was also a focal point, with the conference advocating for a shift from donor dependency to a more self-reliant approach that includes civil society’s role and publicly funded health systems.
In conclusion, “We, the People” aimed to pave the way for the World Health Summit by emphasizing a collective approach to health care, underscoring the necessity of a fair global health architecture, and fostering a spirit of unity in addressing global health challenges. The event highlighted the significance of the year 2023 as a defining moment for global health action, marking the anniversaries of key health institutions and declarations, and presented the summit as a platform for stakeholders committed to a future of solidarity and equity.
Dumi Gatsha, a is a GFAN Speaker, a UHC 2030 steering committee alternate member and founder of Success Capital Organisation, a sub-sub recipient of the Global Fund providing community health and justice referral services, whilst working in the nexus of human rights and sustainable development at grassroots, regional and global levels.