Global Public Health After COVID-19: Building a More Effective, Inclusive and Equitable System

On this World Health Day, Club de Madrid calls for a more effective, inclusive and equitable multilateral system to protect global public health after COVID-19.

COVID-19 has been shaking societies around the world for over a year. It has spread quickly, reached all regions and exposed vulnerabilities in most countries’ healthcare systems. It has also evidenced enduring dynamics of inequality and exclusion, with some regions, countries and communities suffering disproportionately from the public health crisis and its economic consequences. As national capacities have come under stress, international cooperation mechanisms faltered and global institutions failed to muster the coordinated response to stem the pandemic. Efforts to ensure equitable access to treatment and vaccine are also struggling. This has brought a renewed sense of urgency around the need to strengthen global institutions and mechanisms to protect global public health.

Just yesterday, Members of Club de Madrid met with representatives of different global public health review initiatives to hear their proposals for a better global response to future international health emergencies like COVID-19. Representatives from the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development, the Lancet COVID-19 Commission, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the newly-minted Global Public Health Convention panel, all shared insights into how to strengthen the world’s ability to prevent, prepare and respond to infectious disease outbreaks before they become widespread pandemics.

The need to grant global public health institutions more teeth – more capacity to take decisive action – stands out among their many recommendations. The importance of making the global public health system more equitable among regions and countries, and better equipped to meet the needs of vulnerable populations everywhere, was also highlighted as a top priority.

“The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health is a fundamental human right. It is our duty to protect and promote it for all people everywhere”, emphasized Danilo Turk, President of Club de Madrid and former President of Slovenia.

“Reforms of the global public health system will require endorsement and action at the highest levels of government in countries across the world, as well as by multilateral institutions”, said Dame Barbara Stocking, president of Murray Edwards College at the University of Cambridge and chair of the Global Public Health Convention panel.

As the largest global assembly of democratic former Heads of State and Government, Club de Madrid stands committed to contribute to global reflections for a more effective, inclusive and equitable global public health system. Throughout 2021, we will continue to engage with the WHO, the Global Public Health Convention panel, the International Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response and other global partners to spur discussion and foster consensus around the much-needed reforms to strengthen the capacity of the multilateral system to protect global public health.