Briefing by the United Nations System Senior Coordinator of Ebola Virus Disease

imagesDr. Nabarro stated that the current response to Ebola is the most extraordinary mobilization around a health issue he has ever seen. The current breakout is an issue that is deeply affecting society, economies, governments, and many aspects of global affairs—way beyond what ministries of health and health professionals are personally responsible for. People across many disciplines must therefore work together.

Although there have been “some signs of positive progress,” said Dr. Nabarro, “they are small signs.” In parts of West Africa, where communities are fully involved in the response and have proper resources, there are signs of a slowing of the outbreak. However, there are hotspot areas in which transmission is fierce. The response must learn to be flexible, bending to address the needs in areas where new hotspots emerge.

Essential services in affected countries are being undermined—access to health service for regular, typical accidents and health problems is limited; central services for poverty eradication have faltered; agriculture is being disturbed; access to education has suffered; and other functions of government are not working.

However, the World Bank and African Development Bank have given money directly to the governments of affected countries, ensuring that the capital exists to get health workers and responders the resources they need; communications capacities in affected countries are being increased; NGOs and UNICEF are involved in responding to the increasing number of orphans created by Ebola; UNMEER works to ensure community care facilities are created in areas touched by new outbreaks; and vaccines and experimental drugs have been in testing and production.

            A representative of Sierra Leone reminded listeners that we must also begin thinking about comprehensive post-Ebola recovery—we must invest in recovery so that affected countries can get back on track and working on development once Ebola is beaten.

Meeting: Briefing by the United Nations System Senior Coordinator for Ebola Virus Disease
Time: 12 November 2014
Location: Economic and Social Council Chamber, UN HQ, New York
Speakers: Dr. David Nabarro, UN Special Envoy for Ebola
Written by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

Global Health 2035: A World Converging within a Generation

United Nations, New York Headquarters, 15 January 2014

The Permanent Mission of Norway and The Lancet Commission on Investing in Health hosted an event at the UN headquarters titled, “Towards a Grand Convergence in Global Health: What Convergence Means for Health after 2015.” Mrs. Jeanne d’Arc Byaje, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of Rwanda to the UN, replaced the Permanent Representative of Norway and gave introductory remarks. She said that health is one of the top priorities and goals on the post 2015 agenda. She noted that the report produced by an independent group of commissioners from the Lancet commission on investing in health analyzes why we should be leaning towards a grand convergence in global health.

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Dr. Margaret E. Kruk, Assistant Professor in Health Policy and Management, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and one of the 25 commissioners of the report, introduced the panel. She said that the world diverged in many different ways 200 years after the industrial revolution. The Lancet report, she said, is an independent academic analysis of how to narrow the gap and bring the world back to convergence. The report highlighted that dedicated and targeted investments into the health systems can bring low and middle income countries like Chile, China, Costa Rica and Cuba to a point where their mortality rates are quite similar to most developed countries. Such investment in the health sector, Dr. Kruk said, “will not only bring great health outcomes but also vibrant economic growth because people will be productive.”

Dr. Gavin Yamey, one of the report’s lead authors, highlighted the four key findings of the report. It says that a grand convergence in global health can be achieved within our lifetimes. The commissioners found, from their analyses, that the returns from investing in health are enormous. The report also suggested that fiscal policies, particularly tobacco taxation, are very powerful for curbing non-communicable diseases and injuries. Fourth finding is that pro-poor pathways are an efficient and fair way to achieve both health and financial protection.

H.E. Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Minister of Health, Rwanda, said that Rwanda is one of the rare countries which are going to achieve their MDGs. She said that “we have prepared the country by managing the communicable diseases to be ready for non-communicable diseases.” Dr. Ariel Pablos Méndez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health, USAID, said that the international donor community needs to engage the lower and middle income countries in new ways and encourage them to mobilize their own domestic resources. Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India, ended the presentations with a quote saying, “If we do not create the future, the present extends itself.”

Meeting Title: Towards A Grand Convergence in Global Health: What Convergence Means for Health after 2015

Key Speakers: Mrs. Jeanne d’Arc Byaje, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of Rwanda to the UN; Dr. Margaret E. Kruk, Assistant Professor in Health Policy and Management, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health; Dr. Gavin Yamey, Lead, Evidence-to-Policy Initiative, Global Health Group, University of California, San Francisco; H.E. Dr. Agnès Binagwaho, Minister of Health, Rwanda; Dr. Ariel Pablos Méndez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health, USAID; Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India.

Written by WIT intern: Shan Cheema