The Global Health Hub Germany (GHHG) just unveiled a new strategy that is going to guide the Hub’s work and development over the course of the next three years. The strategy lays out a path to a growing international outreach, a diverse and high impact member base and stronger connections to policy makers both in Germany and across the globe. Dr. Stephanie Taché from the GHHG’s Steering Committee talked to us to discuss some of the strategy’s key elements and tell us more about the development process. She is a Global Health consultant and physician with extensive scholarly and practical knowledge of primary healthcare and public health in resource-limited contexts and underserved patient populations and has extensive experience working for international organisations with a focus on health systems strengthening in developing countries and healthcare of refugee populations.
Part 1: Interview mit Dr. Stephanie Taché
The vision behind the Global Health Hub Germany is the starting point from which its new strategic goals have been derived. Could you tell us about that vision and the GHHG's main mission statement?
The vision for the Hub's new strategy is to have the Hub be an essential component of Germany's contribution to improving health worldwide. The idea behind the Hub is to make this contribution to Global Health from a German perspective, one that is rooted in Germany's approach to multilateralism by working collaboratively and seeking out consensus, but also one that is rooted in solidarity, having a rights-based approach to health and a rules-based form of engagement.
There are some unique characteristics in Germany that underlie this vision, such as the successful integration of the private sector in its healthcare approach. The mission statement associated with this vision is to have the Hub work as a trans-sectoral and multistakeholder network for Global Health in Germany and eventually beyond, where relevant Global Health stakeholders and policymakers work together to contribute to improving Global Health. So because there are already many players in the Global Health field, the idea of the Hub is not to create another Global Health institution, but rather to provide an overarching platform for exchanges within the existing ecosystem.
This includes having entities from the public sector, the private sector as well as academics, NGOs, youth, think tanks, foundations and international organizations come together to leverage their individual strengths towards common solutions. The core value of the Hub is to provide such a forum for exchange in order to strengthen and diversify the Global Health ecosystem.
From this starting point, you and your colleagues arrived at a new framework of three main roles that the Global Health Hub Germany is going to fulfill. What are these roles going to entail, and why is the GHHG well suited for these tasks?
The first goal is to act as a community organizer. Through the active participation of relevant Global Health players, the Hub strengthens the existing Global Health ecosystem. Issues such as climate change or responding to and preparing for pandemics are in many ways adisciplinary. They now affect all sectors, impact all disciplines and actors groups. Yet we have societal structures that are organized based on these more narrow disciplines and sectors, and the risk is that we often are working in silos that seldom have chances to connect with one another.
Through this community organizer role, the Global Health Hub Germany seeks to provide a platform for exactly these types of exchanges to occur and include non-traditional actors. For example, the traditional public health institutions here in Germany have not been seen as Global Health actors. However, there's a potential contribution that they can make in this field. Another example is the agricultural sector. This would be the first goal, to strengthen and diversify the networks.
The second goal is to act as an impact catalyst. Results from member collaborations within the Hub positively and sustainably influence Global Health debates in Germany and or initiate them. Small task teams of interdisciplinary experts work together on concrete issues and produce specific products such as policy documents or statements that then can influence the debate and or feed into the third goal, which is to provide policy contribution.
This is one of the unique features of the Hub in the sense that we have links with the political arena. Politicians and policy makers have, via the Hub, access to a diversity of opinions of Global Health actors. We wish to have the Hub become an important forum to access Global Health stakeholder perspectives and knowledge for policy makers. This range of opinion of Hub members will eventually lead to a richer development of policy interventions to improve Global Health.
What kind of process took place in order to arrive at these new strategic goals?
The Steering Committee together with the Global Health Hub Office, started the process of developing the strategic plan end of 2020. There was a subcommittee to more intensively focus on concrete proposals. And in parallel, there was a member survey that was done to better understand what members of the different stakeholder groups use the Hub for in its current form, and more importantly, what they wish to see changed in the future.
In January of this year, we had a virtual retreat to discuss the various proposals and review the answers of the member surveys. In view of the challenges and the workload this represented, we decided that an external partner should be sought to assist with and accelerate the process. A consulting firm continued with the landscape analysis and did interviews with key informants to identify the key strengths of the Hub and the opportunities that existed, and, more importantly, to provide a mission statement that all the stakeholders could adhere to.
It was a consultative process with abundant opportunity to provide feedback, and some of the Steering Committee stakeholders consulted with their respective constituency groups members in the Hub to ensure that the strategy resonated with them. The strategy was approved by the Steering Committee early November.
Did the surveys reveal any areas that are going to require particular care or attention in order to further the strategy in the next three years?
Yes. The first challenge is to avoid duplication with other nascent Global Health institutions. We want to make sure that our strategy does not duplicate or compete, but really build upon the existing strengths of other Global Health institutions, organizations, and stakeholders to facilitate this dialogue.
The second big challenge is obviously to find core areas of exchange. When we were trying to develop the strategy, we realized that stakeholders have different interests and therefore don't necessarily always agree or have the same perspective. Therefore, finding core areas of exchange where each of the stakeholder groups can provide an added value and move forward is essential - rather than focusing on our differences. All of this must happen within clearly defined rules and under transparent governance.
Lastly, while we are currently focusing our efforts on building up the network within Germany, the second phase will focus on building up the international dimension of the Hub.
After learning about all of this, how could a public or private stakeholder engage in this process and profit from what the Global Health of Germany has to offer?
First of all, I would recommend everyone who has an interest in Global Health to become a member. It is free of charge and very easy to do. Members automatically have an overview of what is happening in Global Health. We have a very active events calendar that is constantly being updated. The second advantage is that we have 1,500 members coming from all different stakeholder groups. Currently, there are many funding proposals that request different stakeholder groups to engage and cooperate on a certain project. Oftentimes it is not so easy if, for example, one is in academics, to find contributors and partners that are outside the academic field. This is really a forum to identify people doing Global Health, possibly on the same issue, but from a different sector. This networking function is another advantage going forward.
What would the Hub like to accomplish over the course of the next three years while the new strategy is in effect?
By 2024, regarding the community organizer we would like to have the Hub become the most relevant interdisciplinary and trans-sectoral Global Health network in Germany. This will be partly measured by having relevant stakeholders from different sectors, including these non-traditional actors, become active members of the Hub.
In terms of the second goal of impact catalyst, we would like to see the Hub become an agenda and trend setter for Global Health issues. The plan is to have this happen through multi-stakeholder task teams working on relevant Global Health issues.
Lastly, we wish to have the Hub become an important forum for Global Health stakeholder perspectives and knowledge that is accessible to policymakers and people within the German political arena. So hopefully the work being done at the Hub will partly influence the political debate and the perspective on core Global Health issues.