Public Eye on Berlin

Statement concerning the „World Health Summit “ in Berlin


          Under the patronage of Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy the Charité will host the “World Health Summit” (WHS) in Berlin from 15th until 18 th of October 2009. The organizers are even planning to institutionalize this event and want physicians, scientists, politicians, and representatives of the private health care management industry to meet annually in such a forum. Health care management shall be connected closer to the world market. Following the model of the G8 – the group of leading industrialized countries – the establishment of a M8 is planned, an alliance of worldwide leading medical research institutions.

However, the program of the summit is not designed to discuss questions concerning public health services but rather by considerations to what extend research and private health care management are able to contribute to the improvement of individual care. Therewith the public good “health” is in danger to be turned into a commercialized product which would be guided only by technical and economic criteria.

This health summit is not qualified to address worldwide health issues. Due to it’s organizational focus and content the summit will more likely contribute to the problems it claims to solve.

The majority of the world population is not able to benefit from the remarkable medical progress of the last decades. Still millions of people are dying from diseases which could be easily cured. To often the human right to health turns out to exist only on paper. 2 billion people do not have access to clean water; 1 billion people are suffering from hunger and malnutrition; a third of the world population cannot afford essential medication.

At the same time concerns are growing about new global epidemics or the health implications of climate change, which will have most effect on those that least contributed to it’s emergence.

Poor people are most likely to suffer from well known diseases of poverty like Tuberculosis, Malaria, and HIV/AIDS, which are on the rise again.

A World Health Summit, which would be qualified to bear this name, should

-          emphasise the pursuit of social justice and democratic participation as basic requirements for health;

-          guarantee the right to access to health services for all – irrespective of people’s capacities to pay for it;

-          promote health research that is in line with the health needs of people

-          grant everyone the highest possible standard of care, including people living in poverty areas or undocumented migrants

-          encourage participation of people and communities at the development of solutions whose health situation is actually the focus;

-          turn it’s attention to those who got into social and financial difficulties due to the disease of themselves, their partners, children or parents;

-          support health as a public good by promoting solidarity-based financing-mechanisms;

-          strengthen the existing and legitimized structures of the World Health Organization instead of creating a new body;

-          correct the current way of privatisation of health

“Medicine is a social science” declared Rudolf Virchow, Charité´s famous son, almost 150 years ago. But the upcoming summit deeply disregards the principles of such a social science.  

The desire to act is very much understandable in the face of the current global health problems. Nevertheless, the participants of the WHS shall not succumb to the erroneous belief assuming that health could be prescribed top-down and be realised in a purely technical manner.

Social changes, the improvement of the situation of health, and functioning social services which are equally accessible to all demand democratic participation.

Sustainable improvements can only be achieved by granting the basic principles of social justice and democratic participation.

Having said this we will keep watching the „World Health Summit“: Based on cooperation between health activists and initiatives from all over the world which has been growing for many years.

  • Action for Global Health Deutschland
  • action medeor
  • Aktionsbündnis gegen AIDS
  • attac AG Soziale Sicherung
  • Büro für medizinische Flüchtlingshilfe Berlin
  • Büro für medizinische Flüchtlingshilfe Hamburg
  • BUKO Pharmakampagne
  • Deutsches Institut für Ärztliche Mission (Difäm)
  • Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW)
  • Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst (EED)
  • Globalisation and Health Initiative (GandHI)
  • IPPNW Deutschland – Internationale Ärzte für die Verhütung des Atomkrieges, Ärzte in sozialer Verantwortung
  • medico international
  • MEZIS - Mein Essen zahl ich selbst / Initiative unbestechlicher Ärztinnen und Ärzte
  • Missionsärztliches Institut Würzburg, Katholische Fachstelle für Internationale Gesundheit
  • OXFAM Deutschland
  • Refugio Villingen-Schwenningen
  • Verein demokratischer Ärztinnen und Ärzte (VDÄÄ)
  • Verein demokratischer Pharmazeutinnen und Pharmazeuten (VDPP)
  • Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft (ver.di) – Bundesvorstand, Bereich Gesundheitspolitik
  • World Vision Deutschland
  • Annelie Buntenbach, Mitglied des Geschäftsführenden Bundesvorstands des Deutschen Gewerkschaftsbundes (DGB)
  • Hans-Jürgen Urban, Geschäftsführendes Vorstandsmitglied der Industriegewerkschaft Metall (IGM)
  • Kordula Schulz-Asche, Mitglied des Hessischen Landtags, Landesvorsitzende Bündnis 90/Die Grünen in Hessen
  • Angela Dorn, Mitglied des Hessischen Landtags, Landesvorsitzende der Grünen Jugend Hessen (GJH)