Civil society launches shadow EU global health strategy in light of the COVID-19 pandemic

If the COVID-19 pandemic could teach us just one lesson, let it be that we – the international community – must be better prepared to handle global health crises. COVID-19 may be the defining global health crisis of our time, but pandemic preparedness has been among the most important issues for those of us working in the field of global health for decades. While the crisis has been unprecedented, so too has the global response. And while the loss of life and livelihood has been devastating, the crisis also gives us the opportunity for meaningful, sustainable change. With a new global health strategy, the EU could lead the way. 

In 2010, the European Union (EU) institutions and EU Member States committed to act together on global health by adopting a Commission Communication and Council Conclusions on global health. Although ambitious for their time, EU now needs a renewed vision on global health so it can robustly address new issues – such as infectious diseases like COVID and Ebola – and to build momentum towards addressing neglected health challenges – like disability inclusion, mental health, non-communicable diseases and antimicrobial resistance. Read more about WHY the EU needs a global health strategy here. 

The EU needs a strategy that acts like a compass

In 2019, the Finnish Presidency of Council of the EU, in cooperation with Presidency Trio partners Romania and Croatia, and the succeeding German, Portuguese, Slovenian and French Presidencies, initiated a multiannual project called Strengthening the role of the EU in global health cooperation. This joint project will explore how to better identify possible strategies and further improve working methods for the EU and its Member States, and how to strengthen their contribution to the discussions on health issues at international fora. This is an important first step, but for a distinct, strong European voice in global health to be heard, the EU needs a fully-fledged, ambitious and visionary GHS. GHA welcomes this initiative and hopes the EU will go further, by adopting a full global health strategy. 

2020 is a year of monumental change – an opportunity for the EU to build on it’s leadership in the field of global health. With a new MFF (including new financial instruments for external assistance) under negotiation, and the EU’s partnership with Africa receiving due attention across different political processes, the time to act is now. 

Together with Aidsfonds, DSW, IPPF EN, Save the Children and WaterAid (a group of CSOs working on global health), GHA has co-written a “shadow” strategy, meant to act as inspiration for the European institutions as they endeavour to create a global health strategy. Please note that although the style of this document is written from the perspective of the EU, it does not represent the views of the EU and solely presents the views of civil society on opportunities, challenges, and steps to be taken towards improving coherence, coordination, planning, inancing, and programming for global health. 

You can read the full shadow strategy here, and the executive summary here.