How Did The Geneva Health Forum Start?

The GHF was launched in 2006 in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of its parent organization – the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG), marking a long-term commitment to the provision of health care, research, and training both locally and internationally. Nowadays co-organized by the University of Geneva, it is drawing on Geneva’s specific mandate as a host city to international organizations and its fertile global health environment. The GHF capitalizes on both the HUG’s and the Faculty of Medicine’s pre-existing international health cooperation activities developed over more than two decades, as well as on its network of important actors in the field of global health and humanitarian action.


What Has Been The Thematic Focus Of The Geneva Health Forum?

Held biannually, the GHF is an international conference that keeps the pulse on the global health agenda with the specific aim of helping bridge the gap between policy and practice.

Based on an open call for abstracts, each edition is canvassed to highlight the most pressing contemporary global health challenges. While soliciting and carefully reviewing accounts and experiences from those on the frontlines, whether they are working at the local level in a rural clinic or developing policy at the national level in a ministry or in an international organization.

Eight successful editions:

The first edition in 2006 provided a state of the art forum on “Access to Health” around the world. The aim was to show the diversity of approaches that contribute to improving access to health and build a sustainable agenda for global health.

The second edition in 2008 focused on the “Strengthening of Health Systems and the Global Health Workforce”. At the time of the conference, evidence showing that Global Health Initiatives might be disruptive of national health systems was presented. While there was an agreement that health systems should be strengthened, conflicting views were presented on how to best achieve this goal.

The third edition in 2010 was titled “Globalization, Crisis, and Health Systems: Confronting Regional Perspective” and focused on identifying sustainable responses to crises, placing emphasis on lessons learned from local and regional initiatives. At a moment where multiple crises were unfolding, involving finance, food security and global environmental change, debates focused on how health needs to be brought out of isolation, looking not only at strengthening health sector responses but considering also the health consequences and mitigation measures of crises arising from other sectors. While crises jeopardize health accomplishments it was recognized that crises by revealing existing weaknesses and disparities, offer the opportunity to formulate potential reforms and innovation.

The fourth edition of the Forum held in 2012 focused on the “Growing challenges chronic diseases” pose to health systems in high and low-income countries, in stable and emergency situations. These conditions which require a comprehensive and sustainable health system response as well as action across non-health sectors, gave the GHF the opportunity to revisit some its traditional themes among which health systems strengthening, the social determinants of health and multi-sectoral action.

The fifth edition of the Forum held in 2014 was titled “Global Health: Interconnected Challenges, Integrated Solutions” covering a wide range of Global Health topics: universal health coverage, health systems, health workforce, innovation, maternal and child health, governance, advocacy and partnerships. Content is being developed in strategic partnership with the leading global knowledge centers and in thematic partnership with international associations, societies and federations representing a wide membership base.

The sixth edition of the Geneva Health Forum, celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2016, was marked by several changes both in terms of governance and the program such as: strengthening the Scientific Committee and Partners with the active participation of new organizations including the World Health Organization , hosting a guest of honor: the World Health Summit, opening the GHF to a wider audience: general public and young researchers, the creation of an interactive exhibition space. Faced with the many challenges of access to health, the sixth edition of the GHF “Sustainable and Affordable Innovations in Healthcare” aimed at identifying innovative and affordable solutions and to stress the need for a multi-sectoral approach to ensure better access to new drugs and technologies by developing concrete and viable solutions as well as highlighting the innovation vectors.

The seventh edition of the Geneva Health Forum addressed the topic of “Global Health Precision in the digital age“. Numerous presentations made it possible to realize the impact of digital tools on health actions. In particular, we sought to verify whether digital tools enabled more accurate and efficient programs to be developed.

The eighth edition of the Geneva Health Forum was held in November 2020. Due to the COVID19 pandemic, it was held in an entirely virtual way. Its program has been reviewed to encompass 21 online sessions that were held in a professional studio, giving the best experience that a virtual session can offer. Under the broad thematic “Learning from the Field“, global health issues were addressed, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, but without forgetting critical issues such as Universal Health Coverage, E-Health, Neglected Tropical Diseases, SDGs, Cancer or the impact of Climate change.

The ninth edition of the Geneva Health Forum was held in May 2022. It took place in a hybrid format, face-to-face in Geneva and online. The theme explored was "Covid-19 Pandemic and Environmental Emergency: Reinventing Global Health in a Time of Global Change". The link between environment and health was discussed. The audience naturally broadened by welcoming actors from animal, environmental and human health.