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Rhodes Global Health Forum Focuses on Health Inequity

The Rhodes Global Health Forum, held November 4-5 at Rhodes House at Oxford University, addressed the theme of “Forward Together, Approaching Global Inequities in Health.” CMB President Lincoln Chen highlighted three questions in his remarks on global-local connections in global health: How well have global systems been working for health equity? How well have local systems been working for health equity? How well do the global-local systems connect with each other for health equity? National improvements in population health are well documented in Lancet series on Bangladesh, India, China, and Southeast Asia, but some subgroups, such as migrants or people trapped in conflict or living in poverty, have been left behind. Health systems are not yet responding adequately to the needs of the elderly or those suffering from chronic noncommunicable diseases.

Global health flows are not just global-to-local or top-down, but they are also bottom-up. Dr. Chen pointed to examples of policies that flow from local to global, such as universal health coverage in Thailand, barefoot doctors in China, and oral rehydration therapy in Bangladesh. He also pointed to changes to the architecture for global health.  The framework emerged from the 1851 Paris conference, which focused on health security against epidemics associated with trade. New actors and policies, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and China’s Silk Road Fund, will certainly bring new dimensions to that framework in the near future.

Forum participants included 120 health specialists, current and former Rhodes Scholars, and a small group of Atlantic Fellows, a new program endowed by The Atlantic Philanthropies with its secretariat at Rhodes House. CMB’s Equity Fellows are part of the Atlantic Fellows program, giving them opportunities to engage with other young leaders in Atlantic Philanthropies-supported equity endeavors, and Equity Fellows Liu Chenhui, Natalie Phaholyothin, and Nicola Pocock were in attendance at the Rhodes Global Health Forum.