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09 June 2016 - 09 June 2016

Solidarity, Security and Systems in Global Health: a grand convergence?

  • Rhodes House
  • 5:00pm-7:00pm
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Global health has emerged in the new millennium as a major focus of global collective action. This talk will explore three drivers of global health related to unacceptable disparities in survival, insecurity arising from transnational health threats and limitations in the knowledge and know-how required for high performing health systems. Tim Evans (Ontario & University, 1984) did a DPhil in Agricultural Economics before training in medicine at McMaster University. Over the last 25 years he has worked in academia at Harvard, in philanthropy at the Rockefeller Foundation, in the NGO sector at BRAC in Bangladesh, and with multilaterals including the World Health Organization and the World Bank Group. He is currently Senior Director of the Health Nutrition Population Global Practice at the World Bank Group.

Tim Evans began by outlining three main themes of global health: solidarity, security, and systems. Firstly, the "solidarity agenda" that "every child born everywhere should have an equal opportunity to health" has made big strides through initiatives and individuals like Jim Grant of UNICEF, the Global Fund, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. However, Tim thinks the progress is insufficient.

Secondly, "security" refers to the need for global health stakeholders to think beyond sovereign national health systems, particularly as reforms to WHO and its operational systems occurred after the most recent Ebola outbreaks. Some of these security challenges are complex: how do you incentivize research and development on drugs that have yet to find a financial market (e.g. pathogens with pandemic potential that have yet to reach that level)? How do you incentivize companies to develop new antibiotics to combat resistance and then ban companies from actually using those drugs until absolutely necessary?

Thirdly, Tim defined "systems" as the need for infrastructure to manage the solidarity and security agendas going forward. This, too, he argued, was a complex task that involved knowing how to manage systems that are often regressive even when designed to be progressive. The conversation concluded with a lively discussion prompted by Scholar questions on a range of topics including WHO reforms, lessons from Ebola, the role of military-led health interventions, the crisis of yellow fever outbreaks, the "epidemic" of "pilotitis" in global health interventions, and Tim’s own personal and career trajectory from clinical medicine to philanthropy and global health policy.

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