Global Health Governance For Emerging Global Health Leaders

In October-November 2018, the China Health Partnership of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health conducted a two-week executive education course on Global Health Governance at the request of the National Health Commission of China and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The National Health Commission requested this executive training course because of the increasingly significant role China is playing in providing foreign health aid to low-income countries. China wants to train more emerging Chinese global health leaders to serve in international health organizations and in bilateral health programs.

The two-week executive course covered historical and current developments in global health; the architecture, organization, and operations of global health governance; major actors in global health and diplomacy in health; and how major powers wield power in global health. In addition, the course introduced the Chinese participants to the history, culture, politics, and political economy of health in Africa, which is necessary if China will extend and innovate through foreign health aid in Africa.

Besides teaching the critical concepts of global health and global health governance, the instructors also used a number of teaching methods to connect concepts with real world situations and help the participants to brainstorm and discuss innovative ideas. Six case-based teachings, group role play activities, and group projects fostered active participation and conversation between participants and instructors. A great deal of discussion focused on what China could share with other countries in terms of its successful practices on health prevention, primary care with modestly trained community health workers, and wide availability of antibiotics when China was a low-income nation.

Prof. William Hsiao Prof. Winnie Yip Prof. Nicolas Burns Dr. Ren Minghui

“The price of greatness is the responsibility it takes,” remarked Prof. Nicolas Burns in the welcome dinner. He emphasized that while China is one of the most powerful countries, what the world will pay attention to is how China will exercise its responsibility with the rest of the world.

Prof. Hsiao discussed a case study on negotiation between China and WHO

Planned and organized by Prof. William Hsiao, K.T. Li Research Professor of Economics, the course featured senior faculty members from the Harvard Chan School in addition to faculty from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University Center for African Studies, and Harvard Medical School. Additional instructors included a current assistant director general of WHO, faculty from the Graduate Institute, Geneva, and former senior officials from various international organizations and the U.K. Department for International Development.


Dr. Ng listened to a group panel discussion

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded the course and was represented by Dr. Alex Ng, Deputy Director, China Country Office. He commented that “the Harvard course is invaluable to future global health leaders because it combines the leading expertise in public health, medicine, diplomacy, and African studies with the case-based small class teaching method which challenges the participants to think critically on how to address complex global health issues. The ability to address future health issues through engagement is critical as China increases its breadth and depth of global health support.”

Nineteen mid-career officials from China’s National Health Commission participated in the course and rated the course as extremely valuable and relevant. Hopefully, these emerging Chinese global health leaders can apply what they have learned to prevent epidemics and improve the health of low-income nations.

It has been the most unforgettable learning experience in my life. Every day we were surrounded and engaged by intellectual ideas and new thoughts. A bite of Harvard renovated my mind for a lifetime. A panoramic view of global health governance did not just open doors for the future but also laid a solid foundation for further development.

– He Zhaohua, Deputy Director-General, Dept. of International Cooperation, National Health Commission

The course opened a brand new window for us to see the world. It’s a beautiful world but with lots of uncertainties and puzzles. We were fully equipped with tools and instruments and are ready for greater involvement. We do believe we’ll make a difference because of all your support.
 – Qi Xiaopeng, Deputy Division Director, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention
This Executive Course is so brilliant! I enjoyed the knowledge and wisdom shared by the world’s leading experts in the past two weeks, which will enlighten me to keep in mind the complex interdependence of global health governance when seeking for the solutions to address global health challenges.

– Wang Yunping, Deputy Division Director, China National Health Development Research Center