69 The rule of global health diplomacy to support medical doctors in the pandemic
Global health diplomacy (GHD) is a novel concept in health with a focus on the interactions in foreign affairs. GHD coordinates policies for improving global health, which was particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.This study aimed to evaluate how GHD can help healthcare professionals (HCP), and identify the problems for the HCP in practice as well dilemmas to providing only emergency treatments in the pandemic lockdowns. We performed 9 semistructured interviews with participants responsible for health in the EU as members of governments and health-related sectors through purposive sampling from 12/2020 to 02/2021 via MS Teams. Interviews were conducted in English, voice recorded, and transcribed. The data analysis included coding of the transcripts, categorization of initial codes, and identification of themes using NVivo 12 software. All participants signed the informed consent. The research was approved by the University of Split Medical School ethical board. Participants agree that the global solution to this pandemic is to ensure universal access to healthcare. Global diplomatic response to the pandemic was uncoordinated. Participants stated that the pandemic hit HCPs especially hard, as they have to balance the fear about their safety and providing care. HCP are also faced with ethical and moral dilemmas regarding limiting access to healthcare. The participants agreed that the best example of a coordinated GHD effort was the centralised EU approach to securing supplies and development of a vaccine. Participants stressed the importance of the patients’ rights in the GHD. The participants discussed what can be learnt from the failures of diplomatic response to the COVID-19 and how future global crises should be handled. We identified lessons that GHD can apply to help HCP. GHD in times of COVID-19 underlines the increasing politicization of global health. As the pandemic continues, it is worth asking what GHD will look like in the aftermath of COVID-19.