How can our competences in global health policies and systems contribute to the Covid-19 response?

Belgian Network of Researchers in Global Health – Health Policy and Systems (BNR-GH-HPS)
Be-cause health Working Group

Seminar, 20th October 2021,
IHECS, Rue de l’Etuve – Stoofstraat 58, 1000 Brussels


Since being declared a public health emergency in January 2020, the worldwide response to Covid-19 has been one of extreme measures (lockdowns, school closures, travel restrictions, …) which has caused significant collateral damage to the health of some of the most vulnerable in our society.[1] Worldwide, the bulk of the Covid-19 response has been targeted on virus containment and vaccine development, with little attention for health promotion,[2] treatments and health systems.[3]

Especially in the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, governments around the world relied on virologists, epidemiologists and biostatisticians for advice on the Covid-19 response. Although important, the resulting biosecurity-focused approach led a group of global health experts to launch a call for “reclaiming comprehensive public health”.[4] Other scholars also called for making a paradigm shift from a reactive, virus-focused response to a systemic approach with a focus on health promotion and health system strengthening.[5] But how would such a global health-inspired Covid-19 response look like?

[1] COVID-19: an ‘extraterrestrial’ disease? – ScienceDirect

[2] When the worldwide response to the COVID-19 pandemic is done without health promotion – Linda Cambon, Henri Bergeron, Patrick Castel, Valéry Ridde, François Alla, 2021 (

[3] Playing vaccine roulette: Why the current strategy of staking everything on Covid-19 vaccines is a high-stakes wager – ScienceDirect

[4] Reclaiming comprehensive public health | BMJ Global Health

[5] COVID-19: time for paradigm shift in the nexus between local, national and global health | BMJ Global Health


The objective of this seminar is to bring in the competencies in complexity science, systems approach and health policies of the members of the BNR-GH-HPS and their partners, to discuss how the Covid-19 response policies (in Belgium and beyond, at the international level) can benefit from a more global health/health systems perspective. The key take-home messages from the seminar will be shared through the press and sent directly to governments and their experts.

Target audience

The Belgian Network of Researchers in Global Health – Health Policy and Systems (BNR-GH-HPS) is a working group of Be-cause health, the Belgian Platform for International Health. It is comprised of scholars and practitioners with various disciplinary backgrounds who are interested in health policy and systems research.

The seminar will be first and foremost directed to BNR-HG-HPS members, but will also seek the participation from other Be-cause health members and to outside experts – especially those advising the Belgian governments – within the limits of 50 attendees necessary to ensure participation. The seminar may be recorded if there are more persons interested.


The webinar will be organised along an introductory session followed by workshops comprising a short presentation and a debate with the public. These will aim to jointly elaborate key messages and recommendations.

9h30Welcome address (Be-cause health/BNR: Magalie Schotte, coordinator, Be-cause health)
9h40Overview of the Covid-19 epidemic in Belgium (Dimitri Renmans, co-lead, BNR-GH-HPS)
10hKeynote speech: Why complexity lenses must be used to approach the Covid-19 pandemic (Joachim Sturmberg) Followed by questions & answers
10h45Workshop 1: Treatments: Jean-Jacques Schul: The potential of Artemisia annua against COVID-19 (20’)Debates leading to key messages and recommendations (10’)
11h15Workshop 2: Vaccines: Jean-Louis Lamboray (Constellation): Overcoming vaccine hesitancy: Lessons from North Katanga (DRC) and Assam (India) (20’)Debates leading to key messages and recommendations (10’)
11h45Workshop 3: Health systems: Luc Bertrand Tsachoua Choupe (WHO consultant): Health systems for health emergency preparedness: a WHO framework (20’)Debates leading to key messages and recommendations (10’)
12h15Summary of take-home messages and conclusion (Elisabeth Paul, co-lead, BNR-GH-HPS)

Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 834 2415 2225   Passcode: 849803