Global health diplomacy is the interdisciplinary field where health sciences, including medicine, meet policy-making. A simple definition would struggle to capture the broad spectrum covered by this emerging field, which exceeds the disciplinary boundaries of public policy and health sciences. The discipline relies on training, advanced research and critical exploration of cultural, social and political affairs and their relation to healthcare.
Even with the strengthening of the response, the reason that a few dozen cases continue to exist is because a few months ago people with signs and symptoms weren’t isolated, says Dr. Goosby, so now it’s just a matter of the virus which got out into the community running its course.
The World Health Organization recently declared that the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in Liberia is over. At the peak of transmission for Liberia, which was in August and September 2014, the country was reporting 300 to 400 new cases weekly. Now Liberia has zero new cases of Ebola. WHO calls the declaration “monumental” for a country that “reported the highest numbers of deaths in the largest, longest and most complex outbreak since Ebola first emerged in 1976.” Over 10,000 people have died in West Africa since the Ebola outbreak was officially declared on March 22nd in Guinea. The outbreak is the largest ever and at its height it spanned seven nations four of which have been declared Ebola free. “It will happen again,” says the Director of Global Health Delivery and Diplomacy at UCSF Global Health Sciences.
Inch by inch, the proverbial ivory towers at research institutions around the world are being remodeled to make way for a new era of university-business partnerships.
December 3rd marked the Pan American Day of Medicine in honor of Carlos Finlay, the Cuban doctor who identified the transmission of Yellow Fever through a mosquito. Also on December 3rd, a century after Finlay’s death, Dr. Mirta Roses Periago sat down with the Diplomatic Courier to discuss her experience as the first female Regional Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Ebola crisis, and the Millennium Development Goals. Finlay’s discovery allowed for the possibility to control yellow fever and to build the Panama Canal. His contribution is demonstrative of the intersection of health and politics, a connection that Dr. Periago herself has embodied for more than three decades.
The dust has settled on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and results have left stakeholders with enough to both lament and celebrate. Moving forward, the 2012 Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development is a process that will marry with the MDGs as a single post-2015 global development agenda focusing on sustainable development. Based on this World Health Organization discussion paper, the issue of health seems well positioned to take a substantial place on the agenda. While this is encouraging news for the health sector, it will need to be explicit that strengthening health systems is a sustainable Millennium Development Goal for post-2015.
Ambassador Jimmy Kolker is the Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Office of Global Affairs, in the Office of the Secretary, leads the Department’s efforts to better the health and well-being of Americans and of the world’s population through global strategies and partnerships and working with other U.S. government agencies in the coordination of global health policy. Now the Department’s senior health diplomat, Jimmy previously served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the office (2011-2014).
As the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) deadline looms nearer, global leaders must re-evaluate initiatives for the post-2015 development agenda. As enumerated in the final and eighth MDG, the original development goals inherently rely on donor aid and multilateral financial partnerships for progression. With less than a few months before the global deadline, five of the eight goals are not likely to be achieved. MDG Five, created to reduce maternal mortality rates (MMR), measures dead last on fulfillment.
With just under 500 days remaining until the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, countries are pushing to achieve and exceed all of the goals. Yet, despite our best efforts, our work will not be done when 2015 ends.
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