CGHSR Executive Director Attends World Health Assembly to Promote Ethical Approaches to Global Health Engagements

The United Nations headquarters

Advocacy for Global Health Partnerships, a coalition co-founded by Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility Executive Director Shailey Prasad, hosted an event during the World Health Assembly in May that promoted bidirectionality and ethics in global health engagements. 

The event took place at the Gavi Vaccine Alliance headquarters in Geneva and was attended by global health practitioners and stakeholders from around the world, presenting an unprecedented opportunity for AGHP to convey its mission to a large, diverse audience.

The May 22 conference drew over 70 people and included Uganda Minister of Health Jane Aceng and Gavi Vaccine Alliance CEO Seth Berkley as keynote speakers. The event was held as a side event to the WHA. Incidentally this year’s WHA event, which celebrated the World Health Organization's 75th anniversary, was the first WHA held in person since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

AGHP created the Brocher Declaration, a set of principles designed to promote sustainability and equity in short-term global medical engagements like mission and volunteer trips. Too often, Prasad said, these global health endeavors can do more harm than good, lacking the long-term work and partnership necessary to create positive change. 

Shailey Prasad posing for a headshot photo.
Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility Executive Director Shailey Prasad

“Quite often in the field of global health, the approach has historically been a deficit-based one,” said Prasad. “People think, ‘All these poor people have nothing, we know the answers, we want to tell them what to do.’” 

While the Brocher declaration was primarily developed to address the ethics of short-term engagements in global health, it has received interest and suggestions that the principles be applied to all partnerships in global health. Currently AGHP is housed at the Uganda National Academy of Sciences and Prasad is part of the steering committee. 

AGHP’s event at WHA aimed to find like-minded partners to sign the Brocher Declaration. The hope is that AGHP’s values will resonate with global health practitioners and therefore improve the quality of developing health care systems. 

“The history of global health, unfortunately, reeks of colonial structures – there have been many who have accused global health of being neocolonialism,” said Prasad. “The premise of an equity-based, true-partnerships model is very much needed.”

The Brocher Declaration includes six principles that promote humility, mutual partnership and adherence to applicable laws and ethical standards. It’s a blueprint for global health practitioners that asks them to respect the culture and needs of the countries they visit. 

Read the Brocher Declaration here.