WHO Namibia participates in the 8th Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab lecture series

The series were under the theme global health diplomacy: How can small states play a meaningful role in global health diplomacy.

WHO Namibia, represented by Dr Mary Brantuo, participated in the 8th Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab lecture series under the theme global health diplomacy: How can small states play a meaningful role in global health diplomacy.

The lecture series are facilitated by the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation.

The Right Honorable Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of MIRCO, Hon Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah welcomed the panelists and audience to the session which streamed live on social media platforms.

Dr Brantuo said that the 'World Health Organization has stepped up to lead global and joint action as the world’s directing and coordinating global health authority', making reference to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for global diplomacy. She further said that through such global collaboration the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator is established to accelerate the development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to protect health systems & restore societies & economies.

Dr Brantuo further stated that the role of WHO in global diplomacy is not new given that the organization hosts the annual World Health Assembly bringing together member states to deliberate and make decisions on specific health agenda.

Dr. Mary Brantuo during the deliberations.

'Global health diplomacy is not reserved only for middle and large powers. Real multilateralism is a level-playing field which significantly benefits small states with the universal principle of “one state – one voice” Indeed, it is the voice of the small states which is heard louder and longer through their multilateral engagement. Small states, have a tradition in leading multilateral initiative, and can be very efficient in furthering a progressive health agenda. In international forums, organizations and groupings can advocate for global health issues and be a leader in health diplomacy', she said.

She further said that small states may occupy the Presidency or chairmanship of a Regional body, and through such roles, can advocate and set the agenda for health within their respective regions giving examples from the European Union, African Union and SADC.

She drew attention to the fact that health goes beyond pandemic preparedness and response or Universal Health Coverage.  

‘In the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals, we should recognize that health is linked to many other areas such as economic well-being, environment, agriculture, labour and gender’.  

As 'illustrated by the current pandemic, transcend national borders and require close international cooperation'.

She concluded by calling on small States to 'take the stage and play their part in global health diplomacy. It is only through these means that we can all contribute to making the world a safer place for all'.

The other panelists included:

- H.E. Dr. P. Vijaye Lutchmun, High Commissioner of the Republic of Mauritius to Namibia

- Dr. Richard Kamwi, Ambassador of SADC Malaria Elimination Fight and former Minister of Health and Social Services and

- Prof. Kabwebwe Honore Mitonga Dean of the School Public Health from the University of Namibia


Written by
Celia Kaunatjike
Communications Analyst
Celia Kaunatjike
UN entities involved in this initiative
World Health Organization