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Webinar - The Case for Common Goods for Health: What, How, Now!

When:   -


In this third webinar in a series hosted by the Global Health Governance: Building the Reset campaign, we discussed Common Goods for Health as the Step Zero to health security on the road to UHC. COVID-19 has laid bare the chronic underinvestment in these Common Goods for Health, which are population-based functions and interventions that require public financing (supplemented by donor sources where relevant) because they are public goods or have large social externalities. These functions are critical to safeguard the health and well-being of humanity by contributing to societies that can manage and, in some cases, directly address the often-paradoxical challenges presented by population growth and aging, increasing wealth and widening inequities, undernutrition among some and obesity among others, and environmental and pandemic threats that emerge in the wake of fast-paced development. However, investments in Common Goods for Health can only happen when all people actively engage and come together to collectively demand action and change. 

This webinar brings together policymakers and experts to discuss how to overcome governance challenges to catalyze investments in Common Goods for Health. It will reflect on the fundamental shifts that need to take place to ensure communities, countries and the world are truly able to build back better in the face of COVID-19. 


Main takeaways

Common goods for health are ultimately at the core interface of finance and governance and are in the end about collective action, challenges in that regard can be differentiated in terms of those pertaining to: 

  • Agenda setting (building coalition between leadership, parliament, civil society, health sector, other sectors, global community…)
  • Implementation (realigning budgets, institutions mandated to deliver...)

To shift current situations to more ‘common goods for health’ thinking, awareness and practice, a range of practical issues still need to be addressed. 

Historical experience shows that achieving the necessary collective action is conditioned by a range of factors:

  • Political salience as a window for action. COVID is providing that window in many countries – so countries can almost be separated into two groups – those where leadership will take on the cause (like Korea following MERS) and those where the political climate is so fractious and there is a public health leadership vacuum that means working through collective action mechanisms is so critical
  • Coalition-building: Government aligning with outside groups; overcoming polarization/fragmentation of the political economy; overcoming the resistance of strong interests group adversely affected by the production of CGHs ...
  • Well-defined policies and institutional setups
  • Timing - this is a long road  - how to balance short terms costs with long term benefits, particularly when you are dealing with election cycles
  • Societal values and underlying social fabric. Some approaches – less equitable, more decentralized, less social cohesion – fundamentally works against CGH – so we need to consider these issues when developing strategies to build support for CGH

Our presenters

Agnès Soucat 

Agnès Soucat is the Director for Health Systems Governance and Financing at the WHO in Geneva. Until recently she was Global Leader Service Delivery and Lead Economist at the World Bank. She previously was the director for Human Development for the African Development Bank, where she was responsible for health, education, and social protection for Africa, including 54 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the Maghreb. She has over 25 years of experience in health and poverty reduction, covering Africa, Asia and Europe.

Jesse B. Bump 

Jesse Bump is Executive Director of the Takemi Program in International Health and Lecturer on Global Health Policy in the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is a Member of the Bergen Center for Ethics and Priority Setting at the University of Bergen. He holds an AB in Astronomy and History from Amherst College, a PhD in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology from Johns Hopkins University, and an MPH from Harvard University.

Our country panel

Emmanuel Ankrah Odame 

Emmanuel Odame is the Director of Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation of the Ministry of Health, Ghana. He is the technical lead for the development of the Universal Health Coverage Roadmap (2020-2030) for Ghana. He is also focal point for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the health sector and is a Steering Committee Member for Universal Health Coverage (UHC2030) based in Geneva. Emmanuel holds a degree in Medicine and a masters in health policy all from the University of Ghana. He also has a specialist qualification in health policy from the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons. He has an additional qualification in negotiation and leadership from Harvard Law School.

Soonman Kwon 

Soonman Kwon is Professor and Former Dean of the School of Public Health, Seoul National University (SNU), Republic of Korea. He is the founding director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Health System and Financing and was the Chief of the Health Sector Group in the Asian Development Bank (ADB). He has served as president of the Korean Health Economic Association, the Korean Association of Schools of Public Health, and the Korean Gerontological Society.

Palitha Abeykoon 

Palitha Abeykoom is the President of the Sri Lanka Medical Council, where he leads the Expert groups on noncommunicable diseases, tobacco and alcohol, and health policy and management, advocating for NCD related Health Systems policies. He is also the Chairman of the National Authority on Alcohol and Tobacco where he implements the provisions of the National Act to reduce the harm from tobacco and alcohol specifically and to control and prevent NCDs in general. He previously acted as a Director in SEARO, where he was responsible for Health Systems and NCD, gaining wide experience at regional and country levels, and serving as the NCD focal point with WHO Headquarters. 

Our discussants

Outi Kuivasniemi 

Outi Kuivasniemi is a senior level expert in global and EU health and social policies as well as in global governance and financing at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in Finland. She has been actively working on improving global health security and she has been instrumental in developing global multisectoral platforms and novel approaches for preparedness, including Joint External Evaluations. Ms Kuivasniemi has served in a number of WHO, World Bank and EU Expert Working Groups and is a founding member of the Finnish chapter of Women in Global Health.

Our moderator

Susan Sparkes 

Susan Saprkes is health economist on the health financing team at World Health Organization’s headquarters in Geneva.  She has 15 years of experience in fiscal policy, health financing and health systems reform around the world. She has worked on fiscal space and health financing policy for the World Bank, as well as on health system issues for the Global Fund, among other organizations.  She has a Doctorate in health economics from Harvard University, a Master’s in economics from Tufts University, and a Bachelor’s in international political economy from Georgetown University.


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