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Elders join Ban Ki-moon in convening health leaders

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From left: Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, Jimmy Carter and Gro Harlem Brundtland. (Photo: UN Photo/Evan Schneider)

The Elders bring health leaders together and call for a shared commitment to strengthening national health systems around the world.


The global health system may be as strong as its weakest link. Some states suffer from a weak and crumbling health infrastructure, and their populations are vulnerable to disease as a result. Achieving the Millennium Development Goals is jeopardised and efforts to eradicate diseases are compromised. The Elders therefore have used their convening power to reach out to leaders of health financing agencies in the public, private and philanthropic sectors to seek a shared commitment to strengthening national health systems around the world. Leading the effort on behalf of the Elders are former President Jimmy Carter, former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland and former President Mary Robinson.

Most recently these three Elders joined UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in convening a May 8-9 meeting at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, to consider strategic ways for public and private institutions as well as civil society to intervene on critical global health priorities and harmonise their respective health programs so as to assure coherent action to transform commitments into lives saved.

Leaders of major health institutions and agencies, including the heads of the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, UNFPA, UNAIDS, the Global Fund to Combat AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the World Bank, as well as private sector actors, leaders from civil society, research institutes and foundations including Rockefeller, Gates and MacArthur took part in the day-long session preceded by a dinner conversation among them.

The meeting focused on three topics identified by the Elders and the Secretary-General as priorities in the area of global health – strengthening health systems, advancing maternal health and addressing neglected diseases. During the meeting a press conference was held with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, Jimmy Carter and Gro Bundtland to describe their conclusions and shine the spotlight on the issues discussed during the conference. As President Carter noted during the press briefing, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s commitment to global health issues is unswerving. All participants pledged to continue to work in close consultation.

With this meeting, The Elders deepened its partnership with the Secretary-General and the many inter-governmental agencies, private corporations and philanthropic institutions that share a commitment to the cause of global health.

The following individuals participated in the Global Health Meeting:

  1. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
  2. Gro Harlem Brundtland, member of The Elders, former Prime Minister of Norway
  3. Ian Campbell, International Health Programme Consultant, Salvation Army, Affirm Facilitation Associates, Interhealth Worldwide
  4. Jimmy Carter, member of The Elders, thirty-ninth President of the United States
  5. Ray Chambers, Chairman of the Advisory Board of The Elders
  6. Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO)
  7. Lincoln Chen, Director of the Global Equity Center, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Chair of the Board, Global Health Workforce Alliance
  8. Gary Cohen, Executive Vice President, Becton Dickinson
  9. Jamie Drummond, Executive Director, Debt AIDS Trade Africa (DATA)
  10. Jonathan Fanton, President, MacArthur Foundation
  11. Mahmoud Fathalla, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Assiut University
  12. Julio Frenk, Executive President, Carso Health Institute
  13. Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health, Council on Foreign Relations
  14. Helene Gayle, President and Chief Executive Officer, CARE
  15. John Hardman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Carter Center
  16. Adrian Hopkins, Director, Mectizan Donation Program
  17. Donald Hopkins, Vice President, Health Programs, Carter Center
  18. Peter Hotez, President, Sabin Vaccine Institute
  19. Musimbi Kanyoro, Director, Population Program, David and Lucile Packard Foundation
  20. Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria
  21. Jim Kim, Chief, Division of Social Medicine and Health Inequalitites, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Chair, Department of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Director, François-Xavier Bagnoud; Center for Health and Human Rights, School of Public Health; Co-Founder, Partners in Health
  22. Julian Lob-Levyt, Executive Secretary, GAVI Alliance
  23. Marty Makinen, Managing Director, Results for Development Institute
  24. Anne Mills, Head of Public Health and Policy Department, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  25. David Nabarro, Senior United Nations’ System Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza
  26. Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
  27. Francis Omaswa, Executive Director, Global Health Workforce Alliance
  28. Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Planning, United Nations
  29. Ariel Pablos Mendez, Managing Director, Rockefeller Foundation
  30. Joy Phumaphi, Vice President of Human Development Network, World Bank
  31. Peter Piot, Executive Director, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
  32. Amy Robbins, member of the Advisory Board of The Elders, Executive Director, Nduna Foundation
  33. Mary Robinson, member of The Elders, President, Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, former President of Ireland
  34. Mirta Roses Periago, Director, Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO)
  35. Michael Smalley, Director-General, African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF)
  36. Keizo Takemi, Research Fellow, Department of Population and International Health Harvard School of Public Health
  37. Ann Veneman, Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
  38. Jane Wales, President and CEO of the World Affairs Council and Global Philanthropy Forum; Acting CEO, The Elders
  39. Tim Wirth, President, United Nations Foundation
  40. Tachi Yamada, Executive Director, Global Health Program, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

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