Global health’s rise in foreign policy can be understood to mean that foreign policy makers have addressed global health challenges more frequently and prominently. Two patterns are prominent in the relationship between foreign policy and global health, which are responses to health threats, such as cross-border spread of communicable diseases, that generate international problems; and uses of health-related cooperation to pursue non-health objectives, such as utilizing health assistance to increase a state’s influence or secure better relations with other states. global health’s rise in foreign policy involves the increased need for foreign policy responses to proliferating global health problems, particularly those involving communicable diseases that threaten key state interests; and return of health as a soft-power tool.
The Global Health and Foreign Policy Initiative was launched by the WHO Oslo Ministerial Declaration in 2007, spearheaded by the foreign ministers of Brazil, France, Indonesia, Norway, Senegal, South Africa and Thailand. These founding Ministers renewed their commitment to the Oslo Ministerial Declaration in 2010. Starting in 2008, Global Health and Foreign Policy has been a regular item on the UN General Assembly agenda.
Non-Aligned Movement recognises the the close relationship between foreign policy and global health and their interdependence, and in that regard also recognizes that global health challenges require concerted and sustained efforts by the international community. At the NAM Algiers Ministerial Meeting in 2014, NAM leaders welcomed the adoption of the General Assembly resolution A/RES/68/98 on Global Health and foreign policy.
The Resolution recognises that health is a precondition for and an outcome and indicator of all dimensions of sustainable development. The Resolution recognised the link between moving towards universal health coverage and many other foreign policy issues, such as the social dimension of globalization, cohesion and stability, inclusive and equitable growth and sustainable development and sustainability of national financing mechanisms in this regard. In accordance with the resolution, NAM too under underscores the need for partnerships for global health to ensure the promotion of effective implementation of universal health coverage on the basis of solidarity, at the national and international levels, and also the need for far-reaching partnerships for global health to support the promotion of, inter alia, gender equality and women’s empowerment, sexual and reproductive health and women’s and girls’ full enjoyment of all their human rights, so as to contribute to the eradication of poverty and to economic and social development, including improved health outcomes.
Many NAM Member States, which are in a post conflict reconstruction phase, have implanted their health policies in accordance with the above mentioned framework. For example, Sri Lanka has put in place a supportive framework of social determinants for health, and has systematically invested funds to develop human and physical resources in the public health care sector Health care services have been provided free of charge and within facilities located close to clients in the conflict zones.
Another NAM Member State, Jamaica has developed a new primary health care strategy to meet challenges of sustainability, cost-effectiveness and quality. Strategies for renewal include innovative health financing, infrastructure upgrading, improved information systems, better-trained leadership and managers, and community empowerment. The Jamaican National Health Fund is a Government agency that was established in 2003, making Jamaica the first country in the world to have an innovative health fund.
Global health assistance has become an integral part of India’s foreign assistance program too, and its significance is being growing exponentially over the years. Indian policymakers believe the scope of the country’s health assistance program will continue to expand and hopeful of exploring opportunities for country’s private health sector and civil society in health assistance initiatives. Since 2009, India has committed at least US$100milloion to bilateral health projects in nearly 20 countries in south Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa. India’s Health IT could develop the Pan-Africa Telemedicine and Tele-Education Network, where hospitals and universities throughout Western Africa are being linked with counterparts in India to facilitate sharing best medical practices. As an emerging donor since 2003, India has concentrated on strengthening its relationship in the region, including building the public health capacity of countries such as Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives and Afghanistan.