Lancet, Volume 380, Issue 9849, Page 1204, 6 October 2012
What Europe could do for global health and what global health could do for Europe was the subject of an invited panel discussion last week at Europe House in London, UK. The aim of the meeting, Beyond the Eurozone Crisis: New Realties for Global Health, was to discuss opportunities and challenges that Europe faces in the midst of the financial crisis, and how it can reposition itself around policies for global health in the context of a longer term shift in the world economic order, where developing countries have become the engines of growth.Despite a number of treaties, white papers, and communications around Europe and global health in the past decade, a clear European vision for global health has been strikingly absent. The meeting discussed how individual member states have led the way in advancing the global health agenda, for example, the UK and its Health is Global strategy. But more collective cross-country large-scale efforts were less visible. A more joined-up approach to initiatives, such as the use of health volunteers across Europe, would make a much bigger difference than each country working in isolation. All speakers emphasised opportunities of improved collaboration and sharing lessons between countries not only within Europe but from developing nations. A huge amount of innovation and efficiency-saving knowledge exists outside of Europe that it could benefit from—for example, India's use of mobile phone technology to improve health care.The importance of leadership for better country co-coordination and cooperation was highlighted, yet it was unclear where that would come from. Both the European Centres for Disease Control and WHO were criticised for not doing enough in this regard. One speaker even said a “saviour” akin to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who could rally everyone together, is what Europe needed.In a shifting landscape, it is important that Europe reframes its position in global health and aligns itself to gain greater coherence between policies, strategies, and practices. Huge health, economic, and societal benefits for developing countries and Europe can be achieved.