Re: Germany, the G7, and global health
Your commentary “Germany, the G7, and global health” (BMJ 2015;350:h1210) is timely and insightful. You raise the question whether the G7 summit in Elmau in June 2015 could solve three main problems concerning the improvement of global health: inadequate research and development; too little implementation of science; and weak delivery systems.
Fortunately, the G7 summit does not have to tackle and solve these challenges alone. You are mentioning some of the institutions and organizations devoted to global health. Each one of them is highly devoted to this noble cause, some are underfunded, some have considerable resources available to them. But the governance and international coordination of these global health organizations remains a challenge.
The high priority of health on the G7 summit in Elmau under the German Presidency has to be applauded. It is in line with previous commitments of the German government and Chancellor Merkel personally in support of global health and humanitarian projects. As a result of the G8 summit in Heiligendamm in 2007, Chancellor Merkel encouraged the creation of the medical “M8 Alliance of Academic Health Centers, Universities and National Academies” to act as a think tank, complement and support the humanitarian G8 initiatives, and advise national governments in questions of health worldwide. The M8 Alliance is a visible sign that academia is taking responsibility for global health. It pursues this mission on an independent academic basis, provided by a unique network of today 17 world renowned academic health centers and universities from 13 countries, including the InterAcademy Medical Panel (IAMP) of 70 National Academies. Since 2009, the M8 Alliance organizes the annual World Health Summit, held in October in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin, this year from October 11 to 13, 2015. In addition, a WHS Regional Meeting is taking place each year in April in the country of the international M8 Alliance President, this year in Kyoto, April 13 to 15, in 2014 in São Paulo, and in 2013 in Singapore. At these meetings, more than 1,000 leaders from academia, politics, civil society, and the private sector from over 80 countries work with members from WHO and other organizations and discuss priorities in global health to improve coordination. As part of its work, the M8 Alliance develops and publishes statements and Calls for Action. The National Academies of all countries – as members of the M8 Alliance – then directly advise their national governments and international organizations including the G8 group.
The foundation of the M8 Alliance network as an academic think tank and organizer of the World Health Summit can be counted among the successes of the G8 summit in Heiligendamm in 2007. We are very happy to see that the efforts of agenda setting are successful and health remains high on the agenda of the G7 group. We are positive to see more sustainable outcomes of the G7 summit in June 2015 in Elmau.
In addition to sending a strong signal that investing in health is the cornerstone of sustainable development, the G7 must also emphasize collaboration and cooperation with Asia, where the majority of the world’s population live. An example of a potentially important future Asian player is the newly formed, China-led Asian Investment Infrastructure Bank (AIIB), of which Germany is a supporting member. The future role that the AIIB can, and should, play in contributing to improving global health outcomes in the region and globally should be explored as a part of a collective governance effort to prevent health from ‘slipping down the international agenda’.
Jointly, we have to continue improving coordination and governance of the many global health programs, secure proper funding for health research, improve the implementation of science and programs from bench to bedside to populations. But even more, we have to take responsibility ourselves, each one in her/his area of expertise and possibility of outreach.
M8 Alliance Executive Committee
School of Public Health, Kyoto University
John Eu-Li Wong
National University Health System, Singapore
José Otávio Auler Jr.
University of São Paulo Faculty of Medicine
Axel Radlach Pries
Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Michael J. Klag
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Monash University Faculty of Medicine
Director of the Institute of Global Health
University of Geneva
Competing interests: No competing interests