Foreign Policy and Global Health Retreat in Bangkok

Photo: Ingvild Kvinnsland

Ten years after the Foreign Policy and Global Health initiative was established in Oslo, representatives from all seven member states met in Bangkok to discuss how the members could work together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals on health. Minister Counsellor from the Norwegian Embassy in Bangkok Mr. Vegard Holmelid attended the retreat on behalf of Norway.

In September 2006, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs from Norway, Thailand, Indonesia, South Africa, Senegal, Brazil and France formed the Foreign Policy and Global Health initiative (FPGH). The initiative seeks to highlight the importance of the linkage between foreign policy and global health, as agreed in the Oslo Ministerial Declaration, issued in March 2007. The declaration outlines common cross-border health challenges that requires foreign policy responses and collaborative action from the international community to be addressed successfully.

The year 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the Oslo Declaration. This year Thailand holds the chair of the FPGH group. Representatives from all seven countries were invited to take part in a two-day retreat to discuss both current and future health challenges and how the member states can work together to help solve these challenges. Although the member states are located in four different continents, they were able to find common ground and areas where the group can contribute to put important health issues on the global agenda.

The retreat focused on about global health challenges in the framework of the new Sustainable Development Agenda, particularly discussing the health-challenges of vulnerable populations. It was among other things agreed that if the world is going to succeed with its Sustainable Development Goal on health by 2030, no-one can be left behind.

The participants also attended a study trip to the Samut Sakhon Hospital. The hospital has specialized on health services for migrants. Twenty-three percent of the population in the Samut Sakhon province are migrants, mainly from Myanmar. Many are in need of the health care that the hospital can provide.