September 30, 2015

John Gyapong on Global Governance for Health

Dr. John Gyapong, a noted physician, professor, epidemiologist, and tropical disease expert from the World Health Organization, spoke about the role of politics as a determinant of health during a lecture at Georgetown on September 29, 2015 organized by the Department of International Health.

Gyapong’s research as a commissioner on The Lancet-Oslo Commission on Global Governance for Health informed his lecture and the following discussion about designing policies with health in mind. 

“We cannot achieve health equity without addressing its political causes,” said Gyapong. Citing examples such as the domestic failing of Greece’s economy leading to a forty percent budget cut in healthcare expenditures and the Syrian migrant crisis, Gyapong stressed the influence politics has on health access, delivery and care.

Gyapong referenced The Lancet-Oslo Commission on Global Governance for Health in his discussion of the fragility of healthcare status and its reliance on stable political systems. The Commission highlighted five areas of global governance systemic dysfunction which negatively affects advocacy for health: weak accountability, democratic deficit, institutional stickiness, missing institutions, and inadequate policy space. What then, he asked, can be done to protect peoples’ health? 

In response, Gyapong stressed the importance of two solutions: a UN multinational stakeholder platform on global governance for health, involving many sectors, and an independent scientific monitoring panel on global social and political issues. According to Gyapong, the Commission sought to establish a framework to begin the discussion, as the role and idea of politics influencing health is a relatively new topic in the field. He hopes the next generation will better understand the flaws of the current political system and thus better navigate the intricacies to create a better global health governance system.