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Consultation on the Framework for a Framework Convention on Global Health

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You may be aware of the Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH), a proposed global health treaty to be rooted in the right to health and aimed, above all, at global and domestic health equity. The international coalition of civil society and academics known as the Joint Action and Learning Initiative on National and Global Responsibilities for Health (JALI), has heard considerable demand for greater clarity as to exactly what the FCGH would entail. In many ways, this is yet to be determined, as we are committed to having it developed as much as possible through a Southern-led, bottom-up process.

Yet among FCGH supporters, a clear vision of the principles and central aspects of the FCGH is emerging. These were collectively transcribed last year in the Manifesto on Global Health Justice and a Framework Convention on Global Health. With demand for greater precision, including as expressed at a consultation we held in Geneva earlier this year, JALI and several partners have developed a Framework for an FCGH, which provides greater detail on what would be the principles and central contents of the FCGH, as well as the rationale for the treaty — why it is needed and the difference it could make.

We intend the Framework to serve as a platform for a Campaign for an FCGH that JALI and others are in the process of developing, a Campaign that would include any person and any entity interested in supporting and engaging with an FCGH and its underlying principles. Wide support of the Framework is vital. Therefore, in the most extensive consultation on the FCGH to date, this month we are seeking as feedback on the Framework.

We encourage you to participate. Please have a look at the Framework, and send any feedback to JALI looks forward to hearing from you. And please courage your colleagues and contacts to share their feedback.

In this context, I wanted to share with you two other resources. One is an article in this month’s WHO Bulletin that provides an overview of the FCGH, its benefits, and a response to some critiques.

The other is this reminder on the huge toll of health inequity, a recent article in the Lancet (Justin Forsyth, “Time for Universality to Reduce Inequity,” 382 Lancet (October 5, 2013): 1161-1163) on the importance of addressing health equity as part of universal health coverage. Eliminating the health inequity gaps within countries could cut child mortality by one-fifth and maternal mortality by about one-third. 

The increased attention to equity is heartening, and I hope that even if the FCGH cannot be realized within the next decade, countries will eliminate these domestic inequities. Yet if history is to be our guide, health inequities will exist and remain significant for quite a time to come. The FCGH will be a critical tool in making eliminating them a top policy priority and a legal obligation, with clear requirements and mechanisms to turn the rhetoric into the realities needed to counter the power imbalances and economic, social, political, and cultural factors behind marginalization that enable such unconscionable inequalities to persist.

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