G2H2 Annual Report 2022
Dear Members and Friends
As the World Health Assembly (WHA) marking the 75th year of the World Health Organization has just come to its end, it seems hard for us as civil society to celebrate developments in the way global public health is being addressed after the three years of the pandemic that shook the world.
A sense of animated agitation can be perceived within the international health arena. Many more people attend the WHA, which may be regarded a positive indicator of attention to the essential domain for people’s lives and dignity that health is. Events are organized in numbers that are impossible to follow. New initiatives and entities are mushrooming all over to tackle health challenges that remain on the rise, well beyond the past pandemic shock. Yet, all this fervent activism does not really seem to lead to any sense of greater safety for the future of the right to health. The landscape of what could be defined “pop-politics” – inaugurated a few years ago by Dr Tedros and erupted in the 75th anniversary of the WHO, the one institution entitled to regulate international health – displays a blowing sense of fragmentation creeping in the organization. The contradictions between the official calls for solidarity and equity to ensure health for all, repeated by the WHO and world leaders, and the iteration of colonial market-driven policy decisions glaringly surface in the WHA rooms, ushering some sense of unpredictability on the WHO’s future identity. This is for example reflected in how the zero draft of the pandemic accord’s text has already been watered down, showing that little if any lesson has been learnt from the COVID-19 global health emergency.
WHO member states must make weighty decisions such as the creation of a new fully independent Global Health Threats Council to make sure pandemics remain high on the agenda with an approach overcoming WHO’s insufficient governing processes and authority, as proposed by the WHO Independent Panel in 2021.
At the same time, the war in Ukraine magnifies the principles of international law being contested by Russia, but also the multilateral community’s double standards when failing to address Israel’s violations of international law via its historic occupation of Palestine. Hardly any heated reactions are to be seen in relation to the other wars violently raging in the world, including that in Tigray which has claimed over 600,000 lives. The health agenda is no easy game in the variable geometry of a world fractured by geopolitical tensions, deepening inequality, and global insecurity.
This scenario is, inevitably, very confusing for us as members of civil society – this very notion appears an expanding one in global health circles. We find ourselves squeezed in numberless consultations and decision-less Town Hall debates – more a pretense than the substance of political inclusion – while having to react to priorities set by global health players who often act in the name of their competitive national or corporate interests.
As G2H2, we have had to tailor our original and relevant positions as an independent CSO platform in the entanglements of the pandemic accord being negotiated at the WHO. We have not shied away from hard internal talks like the one on multistakeholderism, with the intent of engaging in a dialogue beyond easy polarizations among our members, to grasp the complexity of this unconvincing governance model.
Through policy dialogues, we have attempted to portray the hidden angles of health realities that affect the lives of million people and to connect the dots across health, finance, trade, environment, and the multiple dependencies of states.
But there is hardly any sense of accomplishment. Rather, the feeling that many knots remain untangled and that future years may loom far more challenging than today, as we must deal with the open-source anarchy of global health governance after Covid-19. G2H2 independence is our compass for the future, in the journey ahead.
Baba Aye and Nicoletta Dentico
G2H2 Co-Presidents, June 2023