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A moderated e-discussion on Global Public Health, jointly organized by the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and UNDP, was held from 29 January to 26 February 2009 as part of the preparatory process for the ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review (AMR).

Generating 126 responses from experts, practitioners and policy-makers from diverse regions and stakeholder groups, the e-discussion presented a rich array of perspectives and generated a series of actionable recommendations for consideration by the Council and the larger international community.

Summary of e-discussion on Global Public Health

Flyer e-discussion on Global Public Health

Hosted on MDGNet, the 2009 e-discussion was held in two parts:

Part I Strengthening health systems (29 January – 11 February)

  1. How can we overcome health inequities, achieve universal coverage and renew primary health care (PHC)? What are examples of successes toward universal coverage that could be replicated or scaled up? How can countries learn from each others experience in this?
  2. What steps can both developed and developing country governments take to overcome the shortage of health care workers? What can be done to limit the damage and create opportunities through increased migration of health professionals? What specific initiatives can the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) launch in July 2009?

Part II Emerging and future health challenges (12 – 26 February)

  1. What are the essential elements of national strategies to address the growing magnitude of noncommunicable diseases (cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes) and their modifiable risk factors (tobacco use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol) and social determinants? What sectors besides the health sector must be involved in designing and implementing the strategies? How can we raise the priority accorded to noncommunicable diseases in development work at global and national level?
  2. In the wake of the financial crisis, how can we maintain and enhance the favourable policy and resource trends for global health of the recent past? How can we better define the roles different stakeholders can play, including through collaborative intersectoral efforts, towards the achievement of public health goals?
  3. What further innovations should be incorporated into global health partnerships and collaborative arrangements to improve their performance, reduce transaction costs and increase synergy of action aligned to country priorities? What other innovative ways of working can be considered that strive for greater coordination and collaboration of all actors in health?

The discussion presented an opportunity for the broader development community, in particular those working at the country level, to provide a valuable contribution to the United Nations intergovernmental process that takes place through the ECOSOC family of organizations. The ideas and recommendations collected may be considered for inclusion in the report of the Secretary-General on the AMR, and will be made widely available on the internet and at ECOSOC’s substantive session in July 2009.

Recommendations will help to strengthen the efforts of Member States to address some of the most significant global public health challenges and to provide the intergovernmental process -- especially the Economic and Social Council -- with some constructive input on efforts it can undertake to reduce inequities and improve health and human security worldwide.