Ministerial Joint Statement: Foreign Policy and Global Health (FPGH) Initiative, Back to basics – towards addressing global health challenges in the foreign policy space, New York, 21 September 2023
We, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations and Cooperation from South Africa (Chair), Brazil, France, Indonesia, Norway, Senegal, and Thailand, met in New York on 21 September 2023, on the margins of the General Debate of the Seventy-Eighth Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
We reaffirmed the significant role that the Foreign Policy and Global Health Initiative continues to play in promoting synergies between foreign policy and global health, as well as the contribution of the Oslo Ministerial Declaration of 20 March 2007, entitled: “Global health: a pressing foreign policy issue of our time”, which we reaffirmed, with renewed actions and commitments, in the 22 September 2017 ministerial communiqué of the Initiative entitled “Renewing 10 years of concerted efforts and preparing for new challenges”.
We welcome the organisation of the three global health related UNGA High-level Meetings on Pandemic Prevention Preparedness and Response, on Universal Health Coverage, and on Tuberculosis which highlighted the importance of cooperation, equity and solidarity in scaling up the global effort to leave no one behind and to build a healthier world for all.
We recognised the mutually reinforcing relationship between foreign policy and global health. We noted that foreign policy can help sustain political momentum, advance cooperation and find solutions to health and other interlocking challengers, based on the principles of global solidarity and equity.
We recalled that the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the greatest health emergencies and challenges of our time, and that no country alone can defeat a pandemic. We also noted with concern that the pandemic has further reversed valuable gains made towards achieving global development goals such as the 2030 Agenda for on Sustainable Development, and particularly the goal to achieve Health for All countries.
We also noted with concern insufficient progress and investment to date to tackle health challenges, including to meet target 3.8 of the Sustainable Development Goals and to fight against tuberculosis, which still remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide. (Based on PP18 of the Political Declaration of the HLM on UHC and PP7 of the Political Declaration of the HLM on TB.
This underscores the importance of ensuring that the international community continue to work in the spirit of human solidarity and cooperation to strengthen health systems globally, including through supporting the World Health Organisation (WHO), as the lead United Nations specialised agency mandated to promote health, prevention, reinforce human resources for health and support member states in achieving universal health coverage by 2030.
We recall the importance to invest in training, developing, recruiting and retaining a skilled health workforce, as fundamental to strong and resilient national health systems, and commend the creation of the WHO Academy in this regard.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also revealed serious shortcomings at the country, regional and global levels in preparedness for timely and effective prevention and detection of, and response to, potential health emergencies. We are therefore encouraged by and pledged our support for the opportunities presented by global processes to develop a stronger rules-based health governance through the negotiation of a legally binding WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response for the consideration by the Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly. (Based on OP1(5) of the World Health Assembly’s Decision SSA2(5).
This international instrument must be underpinned by solidarity and equity to address systemic gaps and challenges that exist at the national, regional and international levels, through substantially reducing the risk of pandemics, increasing pandemic preparedness and response capacities, ensuring end-to-end coordinated, collaborative and evidence-based pandemic response and resilient recovery of health systems.
Such an instrument also provides an opportunity for the world to share the benefits of collaboration, and further development cooperation, especially in ensuring equitable and timely access to affordable, safe, effective and quality medicines, including generics, vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics and health technologies. Sufficient domestic financing for health is key in building sustainable and resilient health system, but we also need more predictable, consistent, and stable financing to support countries in need to prepare for and to respond immediately after a public health emergency has been declared, and in the recovery of health systems after a pandemic has ended.
FPGH also acknowledges the necessity to promote a better understanding and use of the One Health approach, which fosters cooperation between the human health, animal health and ecosystems, as well as other relevant sectors, including through strengthened collaboration among members of the Quadripartite alliance (WHO, WOAH, FAO and UNEP).
We reaffirmed our commitment to continue working together, through the FPGH Initiative to create political momentum to address global health challenges and to achieve concrete results for the advancement of global health agenda, in light of human rights and human development in the broader United Nations framework and beyond, in particular by maintaining and maximising the benefit of the global health and foreign policy item on the annual agenda of the United Nations General Assembly with the adoption of a resolution.
We expressed our appreciation to the Republic of South Africa for their efforts during their Chairmanship in 2023, and warmly welcomed Thailand’s role as the Initiative’s Chair in 2024.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
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