G2H2 Annual Report 2021

Dear members and friends,

After two years of a pandemic which world leaders have described with the metaphor of a war, a real war is taking precedence over everything else in daily news, the more so because of the nuclear threats it entails. This new crisis started with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February – a repugnant initiative which will produce ineffable consequences. That same day, the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body for a WHO Pandemic Treaty (INB) held its first meeting, and a few days later, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report which shows the devastating impact of the climate crisis and points out that much worse is crashing down on humankind. Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, described the report as “an atlas of human suffering”.

These otherwise distinct events are interwoven threads of the fabric of a deeply unhealthy world that – like a living organism – is heading to its end. The rule of law is a forgotten instrument, geopolitical rivalries pose existential threats to the health and safety of populations, while the spectrum of inequalities is expanding. And unbridled for-profit production spurs the climate and biodiversity crises in a process that will be accelerated by the new global conflict. The forces driving climate change also set the stage for the making of what might be a catastrophic age of pandemics if credible steps are not taken to arrest the situation.

Taking such steps requires a profound adhesion to the reality of things, and audacity to change the course of this ongoing syndemic. While governments need to take far-reaching measures which clearly put people and the planet at the centre if we are to survive on this planet, the militarization narrative used during the pandemic finds new political legitimacy in such despairing policies as increasing military spending, enhancing privatisation as an emergency shortcut, and in resorting to a breathless form of ruleless capitalism based on monopolies. The attempt at a compromise on the proposed TRIPS waiver at the WTO to contrast Covid-19, currently being negotiated among India, South Africa, the EU and USA, puts forward too little, too late, and reminds us of the decades-long structural war on the knowledge economy, the management of science, and the privatisation of common goods like publicly funded research and development, not only in the medical field.

The civil society movement, despite its unprecedented challenges, has an essential role to play at this stage. We need to unceasingly point out the truth and pose uncomfortable questions, getting out of our silos and connecting the dots with new systemic arguments. Why should the wealth of the world’s ten richest men have doubled since the pandemic began, as Oxfam notes in its January 2022 report, while 99% of humankind are worse off because of that same event? Why should more people have received their third jabs in Europe and North America than the entire number of vaccinated people in Africa?

Our questions are not merely rhetoric. They must be backed with renewed evidence for alternative proposals, hinged on the pursuit of the right of everybody and every nation to all-round self-determined development. Towards this end, G2H2 has ramped up both its convening role and advocacy as a collective body of civil society organisations in global health. In this annual report, you will read of some of the activities we have taken together in this direction. We need to go on!

Baba Aye and Nicoletta Dentico, G2H2 Co-Presidents
March 2022