Health Diplomacy of Foreign Governments

In the fall of 2010, the CSIS Global Health Policy Center hosted three seminars featuring experts on regional politics, global health policy, and diplomacy to facilitate discussion, information exchange, and analysis regarding the linkages between health and foreign policy in key countries. The seminars focused on the following topics: “Health Diplomacy of Rival Powers: China and Russia,” “Health Diplomacy of Middle-Income Countries: Brazil and Cuba,” and “OECD Health Diplomacy: France, Japan, and Norway.” Speakers included academic researchers, representatives of ministries of health, representatives of ministries of foreign affairs, and representatives of the private sector. The seminars highlighted how key actors on the global health diplomacy stage interpret their roles and responsibilities; demonstrated the extent to which each country’s engagement in the global health arena is shaped by a strategic calculation regarding how global health activities and diplomacy may serve its own sovereign interests; and identified many of the institutions with which, and global health issues on which, they are most engaged. They showed that, on the whole, many countries still prefer to build relationships around global health through bilateral channels as a way of ensuring overseas work is strongly associated with national interests. At the same time, the discussions revealed that domestic health and political conditions in each country exert a profound influence on how each one’s global health outreach is structured and publicized and raised questions about the implications of these countries’ influence and leadership on health for U.S. global health policy and diplomacy. This report provides an overview of the issues discussed in the seminars.

Katherine E. Bliss
Senior Fellow and Director, Immunizations and Health Systems Resilience, Global Health Policy Center