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Health Diplomacy

Traditionally, states have been the principal actors exercising the practice of diplomacy as a means of managing their international relationships. However, due to the impact of globalization on public health, a new type of diplomacy is necessary to navigate the changing landscape of international affairs and politics. The emergence of cross-border disease, bio-terrorism, shifting geo-political environments, and the linkages between health, trade, intellectual property, and human rights, present stakeholders with a complex matrix of technical and relational challenges.

Health Diplomacy is the chosen method of interaction between stakeholders engaged in public health and politics for the purpose of representation, cooperation, resolving disputes, improving health systems, and securing the right to health for vulnerable populations.

Finding solutions and delivering results in the context of the new global public health realities requires a different set of competencies than traditionally provided by career diplomats or professional consultants. The distinguishing competencies of health diplomacy as practiced by Health Diplomats, consist of the quality and level of technical public health expertise, experience in health politics, and established relationships within the global health arena. Health as a bridge for peace is a core concept at the heart of health diplomacy.

The role of health diplomacy will differ according to the specific context and stakeholder. Where global health becomes a foreign policy issue for states, health diplomacy plays a significant role in complementing or assisting formal diplomatic channels of negotiation. In this instance Health diplomacy overcomes the constraints imposed on government to government and operates in a similar way as “Track one and half or two diplomacy”. In circumstances where civil society or the private sector is engaged, health diplomacy assumes a leading role in advancing or multilateral dialogue.

The global health burden that is placed upon the international community demands effective transnational networks to provide sustainable solutions to the toughest challenges. Health diplomacy is a process and method that can help stakeholders effectively pursue their interests, overcome barriers to progress, and leverage the optimal benefit from international partnerships. In a world where disease is everybody's tragedy and everybody's nightmare, health diplomacy is in everyones's interest.

For information about health diplomacy contact Health Diplomats.

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