Global Development Hub explores impact of pandemic, climate change on health

A panel discussion hosted by Imperial’s Global Development Hub explored the impact of pandemics, climate change and political turmoil on global health

The Global Development Hub event was Chaired by Dr Matthew Harris, Clinical Senior Lecturer in Public Health at the School of Public Health, Imperial College and featured a panel of Lord Nigel Crisp, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health and former Chief Executive of the English NHS and Permanent Secretary at the UK Department of Health, Susan Edjang, Adviser for Policy and Partnerships (South South and Triangular Cooperation for the World Food Programme and Professor Francis Omaswa, Executive Director at the African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST), based in Kampala, Uganda and Chancellor of Soroti University. Prof Omaswa was previously the Executive Director of the Global Health Workforce Alliance at WHO HQ in Geneva and Director General of Health Services in the Government of Uganda.

The event marked the launch of Turning the World Upside Down Again: Global health in a time of pandemics, climate change and political turmoil by Lord Crisp, a follow-up to his 2010 book Turning the World Upside Down: The search for global health in the 21st Century.

Learning from the pandemic

Lord Crisp spoke about the impact of the pandemic on our understanding of healthcare in a global context and the need to reflect on the experiences of low and middle-income countries to help improve healthcare outcomes globally. Powerful, high-income countries can learn significantly from the experience of people and practitioners in lower income countries and he advocated combining learning from all countries and all parts of communities to bring real change and sustainable progress.

Lord Crisp stated that in his latest book he had included a new ecological approach to health to highlight that the health of individuals is intimately connected with the health of the community, the health of wider society and the health of the planet. Picking up the theme of ecology, Professor Omaswa described climate change as “the mother of pandemics” and explained that beneath pandemics there are underlying systemic problems, with healthcare systems varying in their challenges from having too much to having too little.

‘Start small, think big and go fast’

Susana Edjang called for greater representation of women globally in leadership positions given female heads of state had typically used more collective approaches in response to the pandemic. She also noted the need to develop knowledge sharing platforms that move beyond the North-South divide.

Professor Omaswa spoke about the need to generate a movement of practitioners that commits to the perspective of keeping healthy people healthy. He noted that “health is made at home, hospital is made for repairs” and called for health workers to be agents of change working to guide, influence, inform and facilitate public engagement in their role as custodians of knowledge.

Concluding the event Lord Crisp reiterated the important role of power in global health and that this must be more equitably distributed. He reflected that researchers and practitioners must to think about global solidarity and lessons to be learnt from low-income countries and low-income communities in our own countries. The panellists concluded with a call to “start small, think big and go fast”.

The Global Development Hub was launched in 2021 by Amina J.Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group. The hub focuses on co-creating partnerships and knowledge sharing platforms to develop, amplify and support research impact in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Lower Middle Income Countries (LMICs).

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