“I hope that we can come out stronger and more resilient after this pandemic”

Hampus Holmer

Dr. Hampus Holmer, Desk Officer at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs:

Why has Sweden chosen to engage in PMAC?

– PMAC is one of the world’s largest global health conferences and gathers many actors from all over the world, not least South-east Asia, since the meeting is hosted by Thailand, although this year’s conference will be held virtually. Most global health-conferences take place in high-income countries, although the majority of the world’s population live in middle-income countries like Thailand. I hope that PMAC can show the way for more fair distribution of meetings within the field of global health.

How can Sweden contribute to global health?

– In many ways – locally as well as globally. Sweden has a wide range of organisations, within academy and civil society as well as private and public sector. All have a role to play in contributing to better health. Sweden is one of very few countries contributing 1 per cent of its GDP to foreign aid. About a tenth of this goes to global health work. This is something to be proud of. But Sweden is also an important player in terms of promoting human rights, sexual and reproductive health and a broad view of health. When we are working for a better climate, more democratic societies or access to education this is important for global health as well.

From a Swedish perspective, what will the greatest challenges after the pandemic be, in terms of strengthening the development towards a more equal health for all?

– Obviously, there are many challenges, on many different levels. The pandemic has pointed to the need for resilient healthcare systems and more efficient systems to prevent, discover and deal with health threats. But the pandemic has also tragically highlighted that living conditions have direct impact on health. This serves as a reminder of the need for a broader perspective of health than in pure biomedical terms. As Dr. Tedros, Director-General of the UN put it: ”there is no vaccine for inequality”.

Would it be fair to say that Covid-19 has laid bare some of the inequalities between and within countries in terms of health?

– The pandemic has illustrated problems and challenges we have known about for very long. But we have also seen that it is possible to accomplish a great deal during a very short period of time. I hope that we can come out stronger and more resilient after this pandemic and that we, together, will be able to accomplish Agenda 2030 in the nine years that remain.

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