Delegation to Geneva: public-private partnerships in health emergencies

In April, NOREPS and the Permanent Mission of Norway in Geneva hosted a delegation for companies within the health sector. The aim of the mission was to get updated on current challenges and needs in the field, health priorities, and future developments, as well as cooperation between humanitarian organizations and the private sector on health issues.

Nine Norwegian companies joined the business delegation to Geneva.

Nine Norwegian companies joined the business delegation to Geneva.

Global health is high on the agenda for the Norwegian Government in its foreign and development policy, with an annual contribution of over USD 350 million. When the delegation of nine Norwegian companies that all contribute to humanitarian health efforts visited Geneva in April, one of the aims of the mission was to discuss how improved partnerships between the humanitarian community and the private sector can enhance humanitarian efforts within the health sector.

The Ebola outbreak in 2014 made it clear that preparedness, rapid response and proper leadership is crucial. These aspects are important in humanitarian efforts in outbreaks, conflicts and natural disasters. New and innovative ways of working and expanded partnerships with traditional and new actors are needed in order to improve humanitarian health efforts. It was highlighted that improved partnerships with the private sector can enhance efforts significantly. Collaboration with the private sector is gaining more attention, and the sector is working on how to best facilitate these partnerships.

The companies who attended the delegation are all established suppliers to the UN. During the mission, they met with representatives from WHO, IOM, UNHCR, ICRC and IFRC. They were very pleased with the mission as they got the opportunity to establish dialogue with program and procurement officers within their product groups. The companies therefore obtained a better understanding of what is going on in the market, and they could discuss how their products best can meet the needs in the field. They also got a thorough introduction to procurement budgets, priorities and regulations.  

Given the 40% funding gap in the UN system, the UN agencies believe that public-private partnerships can contribute with financing and efficiency through the development and introduction of better solutions for the market, as well as the operation of the organizations and a more efficient supply-chain. The UN agencies explained that they often work closely with foundations when introducing new concepts and products. The mandate of the agencies also governs how they engage with the private sector.