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Global Health In Focus As 2017 World Health Summit Begins In Berlin

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With over 1,000 participants in attendance, the 9th World Health Summit kicked off on Sunday in Berlin, Germany. In his opening speech, German Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe said that global health policy has become a hallmark of Germany’s international responsibility: “We will continue, in the future, to fulfill this international responsibility and actively shape global health policy. In this process, it is important to have close cooperation based on trust between politicians and civil society, foundations, scientists and business circles. The World Health Summit in Berlin is also a forum that is held in high international esteem and is dedicated to jointly furthering global health.”

His Portuguese counterpart, Minister of Health Adalberto Campos Fernandes, emphasized the urgent need to focus on health education systems to develop a common global health curriculum.

World Health Summit President Detlev Ganten highlighted the crucial role science assumes for global health: “Academia is taking responsibility for major global challenges. Among them, we believe health to be the most important for both individuals and societies.”

The new Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reiterated in a video message that access to health services must be safe and high quality: “Universal health coverage is within reach for all countries at all income levels. It’s a political choice, and the best investment for a safer, fairer and healthier world.”

Joanne Liu, International President of Doctors Without Borders, who has just returned from the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh on Thursday, challenged attending politicians and industry representatives not to rebrand global health as global health security – especially against the backdrop of the war against terrorism. “Aid is given only if wealthy nations feel threatened by a crisis. Otherwise, the crisis is a non-event. As long as we view crises through a lens of security, global health responses will be triggered by threats rather than medical needs – and people’s health will be sidelined.”

The other speakers on the opening day included Nobel Prize laureate and Stanford Professor Roger D. Kornberg, CEO of Bayer AG Werner Baumann and Roche Chairman Christoph Franz.

The 2017 World Health Summit, the 9th will be on till the 17th of October under the under the high patronage of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President of the Republic of France Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

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Akin Akingbala is an international journalist based in Lagos, Nigeria. Aside being happily married, he has interests in music, sports and loves traveling.

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