Bill Gates lecturing about how Norway can change the world
Gates recently visited the University of Oslo to discuss health and development with Norway's leaders. - Is he the right man to teach them? asks Katerini Storeng (PhD), researcher at the Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM) at UiO
Bill Gates in dialogue with Bent Høie and Ole Petter Ottersen at the University of Oslo
Photo: University of Oslo
In a commentary for NRK "Ytring", Storeng critically discusses the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's approach to global health. In her view, Norwegian leaders should be sceptical about uncritically endorsing its approach.
Over the last decade, the Gates Foundation has attained enormous power in setting the global health agenda, even challenging the World Health Organization as the most powerful actor in this field. In 1999 he established the public-private partnership organization, GAVI, which, toghether with the Global Fund, has come to be one of the most significant health initiatives worldwide. According to Storeng, these initiatives have contributed to a market-oriented approach to global health, focusing on efficiency, measurements and value-for-money mentality. In these initiatives, the donors set the agenda, not the authorities in the countries themselves.
When Bill Gates visited the University of Oslo, the Commission chair and president of the University, Ole Petter Ottersen, applauded the successes of the global health interventions that the Gates Foundation so generously have supported, but he also brought forth the enormous challenges that still remain. Among these were the global governance gaps in political arenas outside of the health system that continue to thwart health gains and cause great inequities in peoples' health. The Norwegian Minister of Health, Bent Høie, also emphasised the need to invest more in the fight against Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), which necessarily requires a cross-sectoral approach to health, rather than merely disease specific interventions.
In her commentary, Storeng ends with saying that Norwegian leaders should challenge the Gates Foundation's narrow approach to current global health challenges and rather focus attention to how social and political processes may promote and protect global health. This is a message resounding with the work of The Lancet - UiO Commission on Global Governance for Health, whose report is to be published in The Lancet early 2014.