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Don urges African leaders to enhance global health diplomacy

Posted by on November 26, 2021 0


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A lecturer at the Redeemer’s University, Dr Benjamin Anaemene, has urged African leaders to take advantage of the existing order on global governance for health, political and economic determinants of health inequities to enhance global health diplomacy.

Anaemene said this while delivering a lecture with the theme, ‘Global health governance and diplomacy: Issues, challenges and prospects for Africa,’ at the maiden public lecture of the Anchor University, Ayobo, Lagos State.

The don noted that the most long-standing factor hindering global health diplomacy in Africa was how to deal with the web of global institutional arrangements, which perpetuated massive poverty in African countries.

According to him, the proliferation of Africa’s health sector by external actors has affected the aid architecture and a diversity of actors and governance arrangements, noting that the inability to speak with one voice in the international forum was a major albatross to global health diplomacy in Africa.

He said, “One of the most longstanding and controversial issues is global health diplomacy in Africa is how to deal with the web of global institutional arrangements, which perpetuates massive poverty in African countries.

“Another serious challenge is the proliferation of external actors in Africa’s health sector. There are more than 40 bilateral donors, 26 UN agencies, 20 global and regional funds, and 90 active global health initiatives. The result is increasingly fragmented aid architecture and a diversity of actors and governance arrangements. The inability to speak with one voice in an international forum is a major albatross to global health diplomacy in Africa.

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“As we are witnessing the current pandemic and the world is coming to terms with the new normal, it is clear that the old ways need to change; transformation is needed at the structural, functional and organisational level. We need new rules now, and this new era demands cooperation, not conflict.

“One potential way to enhance global health diplomacy would be for African states to take advantage of the pandemic to contest the existing order on the global governance for health and the global political and economic determinants of health inequities.

“African policymakers should institutionalise the integration of health into foreign policy. Governments should collaborate to develop common positions that will enable them to influence resolutions adopted at the global level.”

“Governments should also cooperate with academic institutions to build capacity in health diplomacy and, specifically, enable the officials to familiarise themselves with the latest public health trends. Governments could go even further by establishing global health diplomacy units within their foreign ministries, interacting with health attachés at diplomatic missions, relevant AU entities (Department of Social Affairs, Africa CDC, and African Continental Free Trade Area), parliamentarians, the WHO country and regional offices.”

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