With the launch of the Dutch Global Health Hub, more than 20 parties pledge to improve global healthcare

The Dutch Global Health Hub was launched on 28 September 2023. In the presence of over a hundred guests, Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport Ernst Kuipers joined more than 20 parties in signing the Global Health Pact, which aims to improve health worldwide. ‘We all acknowledge the urgency to work towards a more equitable and robust worldwide public health ecosystem,’ said Mr Kuipers. ‘And to achieve that, it’s crucial for us to seek partnerships.’

The event, at a venue in The Hague, was attended by representatives of knowledge institutions, NGOs and public and private partners and chaired by Kimberly Nagesser and Sie Meng Lee, both medical students and members of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA). In their opening remarks, they underscored the Dutch Global Health Hub’s ambition to accelerate change in global healthcare.

Sfeerfoto tijdens de lancering van de Global Health Hub in de Glazen zaal in Den Haag.

The partnership will transcend geographical and sectoral boundaries. ‘The Hub is not just a symbiosis of countries,’ said Mr Kuipers in his opening speech. ‘It focuses in particular on cooperation between government ministries and between different sectors. With this Hub, the Netherlands wants to lead the field in organising the global health ecosystem. I’m delighted that these parties want to make a joint commitment to ensuring the wellbeing of people and patients both in our own country and in the rest of the world.’

Minister Ernst Kuipers spreekt

Working together on the Global Health Strategy

In his speech, the minister also mentioned the growing impact of climate change. ‘Climate change is leading to increasingly serious challenges,’ he said. ‘Extreme weather events threaten lives, and disrupt access to healthcare. Moreover, resources are not distributed equally. Through climate change, diseases like malaria, which we used to regard as exotic, could become endemic in Europe by 2040. We’ve developed the Dutch Global Health Strategy to confront these intertwined challenges. It is a bold and ambitious strategy. And that’s what it needs to be, because in today’s world, working in isolation is no longer an option.’

Demand-driven action

Germany launched its Global Health Hub in 2019. In his speech, Dr Christoph Benn of the German Hub emphasised that actions generated by the Dutch Global Health Hub should be demand-driven and based on the needs of the envisaged target groups. ‘The Hubs should reflect the issues raised by the members of the communities of practice, so that they can be turned into practice-oriented actions,’ he said.

Equality and communality

In her speech, Pascalle Grotenhuis, Director-General for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pointed to the international urgency. ‘The Hub will help to bridge the gap between traditional donors and recipients of healthcare worldwide,’ she said. ‘This will lead to new healthcare partnerships, based on equality and communality. Cooperation between sectors and across borders is essential to identify the most urgent needs. We must join forces with partners in the South, using a demand-driven approach.’

Commitment to global partnerships

Close partnerships with initiatives outside Europe are essential, said AMREF Health Africa’s Group CEO, Dr Githinji Gitahi. Because of its international outlook, the Hub’s strategy also focuses on achieving positive impact for the Global South. ‘And we can only achieve that when global partnerships respect local initiatives,’ he said.

Een vrouw zet haar handtekening op een bord met handtekeningen voor het Global Health Pact.

Unequal distribution

Access to health is still distributed unequally. In her speech, Dr Ola Brown, member of the Health Policy Commission of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, talked about Africa’s wicked health problems. ‘A Nottingham hospital’s annual budget is a billion dollars,’ she said. ‘That’s the annual budget for Nigeria’s entire national health system. Initiatives like the Dutch Global Health Hub are crucial in combating this inequality. For example, by organising impactful investments in local healthcare.’ 

Young people’s input crucial for success

Improving young people’s health worldwide is a priority for the Dutch Global Health Hub. The Hub is therefore actively committed to youth participation. ‘It’s essential that we as young people have a say in developments that impact on our world,’ said Kimberley Nagesser. ‘As young experts we advise partner networks worldwide.’

‘We’re looking forward to making the voice of young people heard in actions geared to improving global health, for today’s world, and tomorrow’s,’ added Sie Meng Lee.

Een man schrijft op een bord onder Actions.

Three communities of practice

The three communities of practice were also presented at the meeting. Each of the communities convened in a separate room, where they got to know each other better and discussed the basis for joint actions. The communities will flesh out the Global Health Strategy, each guided by their own priorities: the global health architecture and national systems; pandemic preparedness; and the impact of climate change on public health and vice versa. Ed Monchen, CEO of Iplussolutions and member of the community of practice for pandemic preparedness, explained the importance of the communities. ‘Through the communities of practice, you come into contact with parties not normally on your radar. Together, we can work on focused solutions for, for example, the distribution of medicines,’ he said. Ruth van Asperen, global partnerships manager at Philips, agreed with him. ‘By working together, we have the opportunity to transform healthcare, making it more sustainable and accessible to all,’ she said.

The Dutch Global Health Hub: for networking and work

During the final session, the communities presented their first action points. The ideas, which included gaining insight into healthcare funding and sharing data among healthcare providers worldwide, immediately highlighted the strengths of the Dutch Global Health Hub. ‘Bringing together parties that don’t normally collaborate leads to innovation and impact,’ said Andrea Connell, Deputy Director of the International Affairs Department at the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport.

‘The Dutch Global Health Hub revolves around networks and, in particular, cooperation,’ said Director-General for Health Marjolijn Sonnema in her concluding remarks. ‘The Hub is all about taking action together.’ The launch of the Hub lays a solid basis for the first focused actions in which partners can work together to improve global health for today’s world, and tomorrow’s.