The International Heath Coordination Centre has a national remit to give a stronger structure and support in the way in which the NHS in Wales organises its global health activity, to build a healthier, happier and fairer Wales by advancing the way we work both within and beyond our borders.

Benefits to Wales

Wales cannot thrive in isolation without the due consideration of action occurring outside of its regional and national borders. In an increasingly interconnected world, local health issues can become pandemic or global crises and global issues can impact on a local level. This gives us a responsibility to strengthen our approach to global collaboration, research and the sharing of policies and practice to ensure greater sustainability and coherence.

People in Wales are living longer, and are spending more of their lives in good health, although the difference in life expectancy between the least and most deprived areas in Wales shows no clear sign of reducing and the percentage of life expectancy in good health also varies widely across local authorities. To continue to improve and protect the health of our population it is important to learn lessons, share knowledge and implement change to improve population health and the NHS.

There is recognition that there are parts of the world which are not so fortunate, where health is far poorer than it is in Wales and is continually under threat from poor economic circumstances and infrastructure; and where health systems are inadequately resourced.

We in Wales are committed to making our contribution to global health priorities, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), by sharing knowledge and expertise that can assist others to gain and sustain good health.

With its recently adopted ‘Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015’ (WFGA) and related national developments and activities, Wales has taken an innovative and integrated approach to implementing the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The WFGA recognises our global commitments and responsibilities, highlighted in the goal ‘A Globally Responsible Wales’. Sustainability has been long recognised as an important concept to ensure the success of the Welsh NHS with citizens in good health and living in a prosperous country, such as is laid out in the NHS Framework ‘Together for Health’ This supports the long running 20 year Welsh Environmental Strategy, launched in 1996. It aims to provide the framework within which to achieve an environment which is clean, healthy, biologically diverse and valued by the people of Wales (Welsh Government (2011) Together for Health: A Five Year Vision for the NHS in Wales, Crown Copyright).

In addition to Wales’ contribution to the global improvement of health, we also have a deep interest in international cooperation on infectious disease control and health threats from major incidents. Health threats from infectious diseases can quickly spread across nations and continents, and a holiday in another country can initiate a major health threat in the United Kingdom.

The Welsh health community is actively engaged in supporting health systems and structures and addressing health needs in several developing countries for many years, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. With the support of Welsh Government, this collective experience was pulled together under the banner of the Wales for Africa Programme, which funds Hub Cymru Africa. Hub Cymru Africa is a partnership bringing together the work of Wales Africa Community Links, the Wales for Africa Health Links Network, the Sub Saharan Advisory Panel, Fair Trade Wales and the Wales International Development Hub. Hub Cymru Africa is hosted by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff.