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Peter Small and Gabrielle Fitzgerald prepare for a Q&A on Global Health Diplomacy.

Global Health|June 21, 2017

What is Global Health Diplomacy and Why Does It Matter?

Gabrielle Fitzgerald, Founder and CEO of Panorama


Global health diplomacy drives priorities in public health and impacts practitioners on the ground, yet the subject is rarely formally addressed.

Despite much recent progress being due to global health diplomacy – on issues such as vaccines, nutrition, and global health security – both new and seasoned practitioners are hard pressed to define global health diplomacy or explain its value. And, while the academic field of global health has seen an unprecedented surge in popularity, and is now taught at more than 250 North American universities, there is little formal learning on the topic of global health diplomacy.

To fill this knowledge gap, Gabrielle and Peter Small, founding director of the Global Health Institute at Stony Brook University, have created an online Global Health Diplomacy course freely available to anyone via registration with the Coursera online learning platform. The course provides an in-depth look at the diplomatic, financial, and geopolitical context that underlies global health decision-making.

When more people understand the role and value of global health diplomacy, the world will be able to accelerate and intensify the immense progress we have seen over the past few decades.

Course Overview and Format

The Global Health Diplomacy course provides an understanding of the diplomatic and financial context that drives global health programs. It also details specific institutions and initiatives that are fundamental to global health today.

The course is formatted into six modules, each focused on one topic and comprised of a series of lessons. Each lesson is presented by Gabrielle Fitzgerald and runs between 5-8 minutes. Supplemental readings or videos are recommended for each lesson.

Course Syllabus

Overview and introduction to players

  • What is global health diplomacy?
  • Global health stakeholders
  • The U.S. government and global health diplomacy
  • Philanthropic diplomacy

What are the drivers of policy for global health diplomacy?

  • Policy setting bodies
  • Global goals: Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals
  • Summits and Replenishments

How is global health financed?

  • How much does the world spend on global health?
  • What does the US government spend on global health?
  • What is the role of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in financing global health?
  • Other major funders of global health
  • How is the WHO funded?

Global health financing institutions

  • The Global Fund
  • Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations
  • World Bank
  • Other financing mechanisms

What is global health governance?

  • How is the WHO governed?
  • How is the Global Fund governed?
  • How is the Global Polio Eradication Initiative governed?
  • How are disease specific initiatives governed?

What is global health security?

  • Policy frameworks for global health security
  • The West Africa Ebola response
  • Post-Ebola: What has changed?
  • Global health and geopolitics

More Information

To learn more and register for the course

Read Gabrielle and Peter’s DevEx editorial: What do Ban Ki-moon, Justin Trudeau, Usher and Bill Gates have in common? Global Health Diplomacy

Gabrielle Fitzgerald biography

Peter Small biography

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