Science, Technology and Innovation Diplomacy Forum with a focus on Health Diplomacy within the Covid-19 pandemic
The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) hosted a Regional STI Diplomacy Forum on 11 December 2020 during Science Forum South Africa titled Science, Technology and Innovation Diplomacy Forum with a focus on Health Diplomacy within the Covid-19 pandemic.
Health diplomacy embodies intergovernmental negotiations aimed at managing and shaping the global policy sphere for health. Global health diplomacy has over the years gained traction as a practice by which governments and non-state actors attempt to coordinate global policy solutions to improve global health. Many African nations have embedded STI into their foreign policies and international relations activities.
The Covid-19 pandemic is transboundary and global in context and has threatened/collapsed health systems in many countries. The forum explored STI diplomacy’s role in public health and the management of outbreaks of infectious diseases in Africa and took stock of STI diplomacy as a tool to support foreign policy and strengthen health systems’ response to pandemics through health diplomacy. Deliberations during the forum demonstrated that effective STI diplomacy with a focus on health diplomacy is driven by both science and policy to improve collaboration between countries and promote health systems development in Africa.
Key speakers in the space of health diplomacy and science advice in Africa that added valuable contributions to the forum included among others Mr Cecil Masoka, DSI, Prof Himla Soodyall, ASSAf, Prof Jeffrey Mphahlele, SAMRC, Prof Oyewale Tomori, Nigerian Academy of Science, Prof Steven Friedman, University of Johannesburg, Dr Philani Mthembu, Institute for Global Dialogue, Prof Charles Nhachi, Medical Research Council of Zimbabwe, Ms Jackie Kado, Network of African Science Academies and Mr Thabo Dikgale, National Research Foundation.