The Ebola crisis was a major wake-up call

Unless we seriously scale up our efforts to strengthen health systems in poor countries and strengthen the global health crisis response, we will put the whole world population’s lives at risk. Germany, Ghana and Norway are cooperating to mobilise world leaders to strengthen weak health systems to secure global health security.

Millions of people suffer and die from weak health systems across the world.  It is estimated that 1 billion people will never see a health worker in their lives!  The Ebola crisis has showed us that this is a serious threat to the health of all people of the world.  The rich world cannot buy themselves out of this serious threat.  The only remedy is to scale up global efforts to strengthen health systems in poor countries and to strengthen the global health emergency response capacity.

Billions have been invested in global health over the past decades, and a lot has been achieved.  Our experience and knowledge has never been better, and the same goes for the international cooperation.  The world needs 10 million new health workers.  We need more sustainable funding to buy existing medicines and vaccines, and more funding to develop new treatments.  Populations need to be better informed, and they need access to quality education.  Last, but not least, we need strong leadership and good governance to ensure that the right to health is achieved for all.

Norway’s development aid has grown steadily over the past decades. Priorities have been education and health.  With almost 1 billion dollar invested per year, and with several ministries, agencies and experts working actively at country level, regional level and at global level, Norway has an ambition to be a global leader in education and health.

“Education leads to better health, and better health leads to better education.  Funding education is one of the best investments for promoting health and preventing disease”, says Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ghana’s President John Mahama and Prime Minister Erna Solberg are now mobilising world leaders to learn from the Ebola-crisis.  In February this year, they sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and proposed setting up a high-level panel to strengthen the international crisis management system, on the basis of the lessons learned from the Ebola epidemic.  The High-Level Panel led by Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete will submit their report at the end of December.

During the UN General Assembly in New York, the three leaders will host a side-event on Saturday 26th September that will give valuable inputs to the High Level Panel, and mobilise world leaders.  Participants will include Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, heads of state, leaders of WHO, World Bank, the Global Fund against HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, the global vaccine initiative GAVI, Bill and Melinda Gates and Save the Children International.