Panel 2 | Exploring South-South and Triangular Cooperation for Sustainable Health and Development

Participants discussed how South-South and triangular partnerships could apply lessons learned over the years to disseminate and scale up lasting and impacting collaborations around various global health issues. Speakers identified specific barriers to creating partnerships between country governments, multilateral organizations, and the private sector to tackle ambitious global health and development goals. Panelists drew from their own experiences to identify key factors for success—such as political will, communication, and supporting infrastructure—and discussed the future of South-South and triangular partnerships in the post-2015 development context.


  • Dr. Richard Frank, Chief Medical Officer, Siemens Healthcare
  • Akash Bhavsar, CEO, SkyQuest Management Consulting Group
  • Mariana Faria, Head of Office, UNASUR-ISAGS
  • Teresa Liu, Envoy of the Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation, on behalf of Yiping Zhou, Director of UNOSSC
  • UNAIDS representative

The vast majority of people living with HIV are living in the global South, and the burden of non-communicable disease is rising disproportionally among low-to-middle-income countries. No one organization or country is capable of addressing these issues, thus the need for greater harmonization of efforts between governments, private sector, academia, civil society and the general public. The SDGs’ focus on the welfare of the people and the planet highlights the importance of a more holistic approach to health, but requires UN agencies and the global health community to respond in concrete ways scale up viable collaborations and share best practices that are adaptable. Such a successful collaboration under the UN Office of South-South cooperation was the partnership of the Uganda government with Cipla, an Indian pharmaceutical company, and Quality Chemicals Limited (QCL), a Ugandan pharmaceutical company. This partnership widened Cipla’s reach and network, established a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in Kampala, and produced low cost medication while increasing access to HIV/AIDS treatment [Liu]. Another success story is the the South-South Global Health Exchange (SS-GHX), a joint initiative of the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation at the United Nations Development Programme, with WHO’s regional office of the Americans, and the Pan American health Organization (PAHO) to enhances cooperation, knowledge sharing and exchange among developing and developed countries on successful practices for health and development [Liu]. Panelist agreed that it was critical to have absolute numbers associated with the SDGs that would allow global health actors to set series of short term goals to build momentum toward larger concrete goals such as UN’s goal to avert 21 million AIDS-related deaths and 28 million new infections by 2030. Key issues to consider when innovating global health outreach infrastructure are affordability of commodity by asking questions and addressing trade restrictions that may impact pricing, achieving a common regulatory market system to facilitate the registration of commodities in multiple countries at once, and solving availability issues through tracking systems and transnational mechanisms that could immediately mitigate stock-outs [UNAIDS representative]. In addition to affordability, technologies and other commodities also need to be adapted to the local circumstances as some equipment perform differently depending on temperature or are negatively affected by vibrations from transportation. Siemens Healthcare’s success in combining mobile medical technology and telemedicine has enabled governments in countries like Peru to invest in high technology in cities, and ensure that surrounding regions and countryside inhabitants benefit from these investments through hub-and-spoke models [Frank]. An emphasis should be placed on listening to each partner country represented so that targeted interventions appropriate for each country are implemented, on respecting the differences of each of these countries as not all solutions are feasible or appropriate in each Southern country, and on building trust between countries, the private sector, and multilateral organizations so that effective partnerships can be formed for the promotion of health for all [Faria]. Panelists concluded that while it is important to target specific illnesses when implementing broad, ambitious goals, a holistic approach is needed in healthcare. Better healthcare begins with availability of basic resources such as clean water and better sanitation. Science, technology and innovations were seen as key drivers for bringing desired changes in meeting those goals. These drivers however can only accomplish so much when there are many more patients than doctors able to treat them in most low and middle income countries.