GHF 2020: putting humans at the forefront of global health

The coronavirus crisis is a powerful indicator of the global challenges facing the health sector. The eighth Geneva Health Forum will pull together key players in the quest for concrete solutions.




Thousands of experts and key players in global health will meet from November 16 to 18, 2020 in the virtual corridors of the eighth Geneva Health Forum (GHF) to analyse the responses to the coronavirus crisis. Access to healthcare, training for health professionals and the protection of nursing staff are some of the challenges that the 21 scheduled sessions will focus on. With Health for Everyone: Learning from the Field as its central theme, the GHF will take full advantage of its foothold in Geneva – one of the global capitals of multilateralism – to facilitate dialogue between scientists, research institutions, international and non-governmental organisations, and private companies. The GHF will also tackle crucial themes of global health such as digital health, cancer, vaccines, universal health coverage and neglected tropical diseases.


Faced with the current health crisis, it is more important than ever to unite the key players in global health so they can build bridges with the decision-makers charged with developing public health policies – the GHF’s DNA. «The Covid-19 health crisis has highlighted as never before the major issues and challenges of global health not just for health security but also for economic, social and political security», begins Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and co-chair of the GHF. «The GHF is close to numerous NGOs and international organisations as well as private and institutional actors in and around Geneva. This means it can bring together all the interested parties to start a dialogue that is compassionate but demanding, neutral but committed, as required by the present crisis. In short, it’s a unique opportunity». 


Virtual forum

The GHF has re-invented itself online so that local and international actors can take part in the forum while complying with the necessary health measures. The programme has been redesigned to meet the needs of the virtual format. Participants will be able to follow all 21 scheduled sessions live or recorded from Geneva, with the entire programme broadcast from a studio to guarantee its technical quality. All the stands showcasing the latest innovations from the private and institutional exhibitors will be accessible online so that participants can interact directly with them. In addition, a selection of e-posters will be available. Last but not least, a dynamic networking tool will keep alive the spirit of the GHF, which also aims to facilitate informal meetings, stimulate discussion and debate, and foster new joint ventures.


From working in the field to patients

Sharing feedback from the field has traditionally helped the GHF root its debates in reality. Geneva University Hospitals’ (HUG) experience of managing the coronavirus crisis will be discussed and compared with other international experiences. «According to the WHO, over a billion people today don’t have access to quality care due to the lack of training of medical personnel in particular,» explains Arnaud Perrier, medical director at HUG. «Training and the quality of care, together with the health of nursing staff, are major issues for global health, especially in a time of crisis. The coronavirus has shown itself to be highly contagious and virulent with serious complications for people who fall ill. It has been necessary to train a great number of caregivers at speed in how to protect themselves and how to look after the sick».

The central issue of training will be addressed in several specially-dedicated sessions that will attempt to identify solutions for promoting, securing and training caregivers in sufficient numbers. The theme of this year’s GCF will also echo the decision taken by the World Health Assembly to declare 2020 the International Year of Nurses and Midwives. It is also worth noting that patients, as experts in their disease and co-creators of care solutions, will also be at the forefront of these debates. 


eHealth and innovation

Another theme that will be explored at the GHF will be the emergence of digital health. The development of connected technologies, Big Data and artificial intelligence greatly enhances the diagnosis of numerous pathologies, paving the way for personalised health. But it also raises important ethical questions about data use and protection, as well as questions of a practical nature when it comes to collecting and processing the same data. As all health sectors will be taking part in the GHF, the forum provides the ideal framework for tackling this transversal theme.

The GHF’s innovation fair also offers the opportunity to promote innovative technological approaches designed for countries with limited resources. As an integral part of the GHF, the fair acts as a genuine international showcase for technological and digital innovations in the field of health, logistics in hard-to-reach areas, and the quantitative and qualitative management of food, water and air. Start-ups, larger institutions and companies will host booths where exhibitors will offer demonstrations in real time and from the field.


India: special guest

India, the special guest for the 2020 forum, boasts centres of excellence in many areas of health. The country is currently facing major challenges such as an aging population, the world’s highest diabetes rate, and a critical situation regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. The GHF has reserved a platform for India to present and discuss its experiences of managing these issues. The forum will also be an opportunity to discover Indian medicine, which is very open to alternative medicine, «which should be considered without dogma or a closed mind so that overall health can be improved while observing a scientific approach», concludes Antoine Flahault.



The Geneva Health Forum (GHF) 

Created in 2006 by University Hospitals of Geneva and the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Geneva, the GHF is the flagship event for global health in Switzerland. Held every two years, the GHF attracts renowned speakers from Switzerland and abroad, bringing together participants from a wide range of backgrounds: health professionals, academics, politicians, civil society and the private sector. It also boasts a large exhibition area. The GHF is held in partnership with international organisations and Swiss public institutions active in the field of health. 


10 Nov 2020


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