Briefing Paper

Project: Centre on Global Health Security

David P Fidler
  • The Foreign Policy and Global Health Initiative (FPGHI) is one of the most well-known efforts aimed at increasing health's importance in foreign policy. The FPGHI and its Oslo Ministerial Declaration gained prominence by reflecting health's rise as a foreign policy issue that was under way before the FPGHI's launch in 2006.
  • The FPGHI emphasized 'global health security' to frame the link, proposed health as a 'defining lens' for foreign policy and developed an ambitious agenda. It has stimulated interest on global health and foreign policy in the United Nations General Assembly.
  • Assessing the FPGHI's importance is difficult because it has not provided regular information about its activities or critically analysed its performance. External assessments are also lacking. On the available information, the FPGHI's impact appears limited, and other initiatives, processes, mechanisms and actions have had more impact in elevating health in foreign policy.
  • The FPGHI does not appear to be a promising venue in which to address the increasingly difficult environment health faces within foreign policy processes because of fiscal crises in many countries and geopolitical shifts in the distribution of power. Clarifying and deepening the meaning of the Oslo process would require more information and insight on how it has managed the dilemmas presented by pursuing health objectives in foreign policy.