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. Worldwide, the bulk of the Covid-19 response has been targeted on virus containment and vaccine development, with little attention for health promotion, treatments and health systems.

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”. 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. But how would such a global health-inspired Covid-19 response look like?


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 seminar will be organised along one introductory session and four successive workshops. The workshops will comprise 2 short presentations and a debate with the public, ending by joint elaboration of key messages and recommendations. Each workshop will be animated by a BNR-GH-HPS member.

  • 9h Opening
  • 9h30 Welcome address (Be-Cause Health/BNR: Magalie Schotte, coordinator, Be-Cause Health)
  • 9h40 Overview of the Covid-19 epidemic in Belgium (Dimitri Renmans, co-lead, BNR-GH-HPS)
  • 10h Keynote speech (recorded): Why complexity lenses must be used to approach the Covid-19 pandemic (Joachim Sturmberg)
  • 10h30 Coffee break
  • 10h45 Workshop 1: Response strategies and their impacts:
    • Kristien Michielsen (ICRH, UGent): Impact of the COVID measures on sexual and reproductive health (15’)
    • Other presentation (15’)
    • Debate (30’)
    • Key messages and recommendations (15’)
  • 12h Workshop 2: treatments:
    • 2 presentations (15’ each)
    • Debate (30’)
    • Key messages and recommendations (15’)
  • 13h15 Lunch
  • 14h30 Workshop 3: vaccines:
    • Jean-Louis Lamboray (Constellation): Overcoming vaccine hesitancy: Lessons from North Katanga (DRC) and Assam (India) (15’)
    • Other presentation (15’)
    • Debate (30’)
    • Key messages and recommendations (15’)
  • 15h45 Workshop 4: health systems:
    • 1 presentation (15’)
    • Luc Bertrand Tsachoua Choupe (WHO consultant): Health systems for health emergency preparedness: a WHO framework (15’)
    • Debate (30’)
    • Key messages and recommendations (15’)
  • 17h Summary of take-home messages and conclusion (Elisabeth Paul, co-lead, BNR-GH-HPS)
  • 17h30 Drink

Call for proposals

If you are interested in presenting a communication on one of the four workshop topics, or chairing one of them, please send an abstract or a short letter of interest to and, by October 8th.

If you personally know an outside expert who could be interested in joining the seminar, please also suggest her/him to us.

We will select speakers not only based on scientific quality, but also so as ensuring a good balance between topics and disciplines – so please don’t be upset if you are not selected. Your participation in the debates will be very valuable anyway!


Indicate here whether you will be attending or not at the latest by October 15th.

English spoken only