On Saturday May 20th, HCC was among the civil society organisations represented at the Commonwealth Civil Society Forum 2017 Policy Dialogue in Geneva. HCC was represented by Executive Director, Maisha Hutton and HCC President, Trevor Hassell. The primary aim of the policy dialogue was to gain consensus on a series of policy asks for presentation at the Commonwealth Ministers of Health Meeting on May 21st which precedes the 70th WHA. It is hoped then that the civil society asks will influence the priority messages of the Commonwealth Ministers of Health at the WHA.
The meeting provided a platform for civil society advocates to arrive at consensus and on policy asks across three key themes:
- wellbeing policy and health;
- structural violence and its impact on women’s health; and
- funding models to finance universal health coverage (UHC).
These policy asks were discussed with government representatives from two commonwealth countries: Hon. John Boyce, Health Minster in Barbados, and Dr. Hon Jabbin Mulwanda, Permanent Secretary, Clinical Services in the Ministry of Health, Zambia. PS Mulwanda opened his remarks by applauding the Commonwealth Foundation for creating a space for civil society to dialogue with policymakers to directly influence health policy. He urged civil society actors to work to strengthen country level civil society/ public sector communication and collaboration.
The Rt Hon Baroness Patricia Scotland QC, Commonwealth Secretary General underscored her support for the civil society forum: “We need civil society to work together in a regenerative way in order to meet these challenges and I assure you that the secretariat is listening.” The Caribbean was also represented at the forum by Dr. Rudy Cummings, CARICOM Health Desk.