The corona pandemic illustrates with alarming clarity what a 'global issue' can mean in the worst case; namely, the spread of a dangerous infectious disease that transcends all political and geographical boundaries, the like of which has not threatened humanity on this scale for many decades.
The fact that major global challenges exist, and that these can only be overcome by working together in a concerted way, prompted the Foundation to give new impetus to its international funding as early as autumn 2017: It did so under the umbrella of the funding initiative Global Issues – Integrating Different Perspectives with its thematic calls for proposals. Dr. Adelheid Wessler, leader of the 'International' funding team, explains the goals being pursued by the Foundation and its funding partners and how the initiative is structured.
It was of course not at all foreseeable that the call titled 'Mobility – Global Medicine and Health Research' in the context of 'Global Issues' would become so dramatically more topical. What was it that prompted the call?
Adelheid Wessler: The basic idea was that the exploding mobility of people, whether for tourism or economic reasons or involuntarily through displacement and people seeking refuge, brings with it enormous challenges but also opportunities for the health systems in the affected countries. We are experiencing all too clearly how Covid-19, due to global interdependencies, is spreading rapidly throughout the world – with sometimes quite disastrous local effects.
The idea behind this specific call was born in collaboration between us and three other major European foundations: Wellcome in the UK, the Novo Nordisk Foundation in Denmark, and the La Caixa Foundation in Spain. We want to support projects that examine the impact of mobility on the health of local and mobile populations as well as on different health systems from different perspectives. The proposed solutions should of course be sustainable.