Health – a human right

The international commitment to health

UNICEF and local partners providing emergency aid for refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Numerous organisations of the international community, along with many non-governmental organisations, are pursuing strategies to build universal health coverage. Germany supports many of these organisations and works together with them on health issues, especially those affecting several regions.

Going forward, development policy will also have to face additional challenges such as non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cancer. Tackling the consequences of alcohol, cigarette and drug consumption is also becoming increasingly important. Some of the relatively new issues in the sphere of development cooperation are environmental medicine, the impact of climate change on human health, and safety issues concerning genetically modified organisms.

Public and private-sector involvement

Two oculists by a practice in front of a microscope.

With the emergence of what had previously been an unknown human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and resulting AIDS pandemic came a growing awareness of how health problems can quickly become a global threat.

This is why significantly more funding has been made available for promoting health in developing countries since the early 1990s. New financing instruments have been put in place, including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund).

In recent years we have also seen the rise – parallel to the existing structures of classic development cooperation – of numerous private and civil society organisations that in some cases have immense financial resources at their disposal. One example is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

More funding means more coordination

Headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva

Today, well over a hundred international actors make up what is known as the global health architecture. The diversity of actors and structures helps mobilise new financial resources for the health sector. At the same time, however, it is becoming more difficult to coordinate all the stakeholders – especially for the developing countries that are confronted with widely differing application procedures and implementing modalities.

Initiatives to enhance effectiveness

Preventive check-up for high blood pressure in Cuba

At the global level, the World Health Organization (WHO) is entitled to coordinate and set standards in matters such as the outbreak of diseases. So far, however, there is no internationally recognised body responsible for coordinating the flows of funding or ensuring coherence in the implementation of measures in the health sector. This situation makes coordination frequently difficult and sometimes even impossible.

Nevertheless, efforts are being made to improve development cooperation effectiveness, not least by implementing the internationally agreed Aid Effectiveness Agenda.

An important platform for achieving universal health coverage (UHC), as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda, is the UHC2030 health partnership. It grew out of the International Health Partnership (IHP+), which was established to focus efforts on meeting the health-related Millennium Goals. UHC2030 comprises more than 60 countries as well as development organisations and health initiatives, private foundations and civil society organisations. The alliance coordinates the efforts being made worldwide to strengthen health systems.

Germany is a member of UHC2030. The German government has a strong focus on ensuring that the measures it funds produce measurable outcomes. Germany also advocates more effective development cooperation in its capacity as a member of the G7 and of various international steering committees (such as in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria).

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See also

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