Mapping Foreign Affairs and Global Public Health Competencies: Towards a Competency Model for Global Health Diplomacy

Matthew Brown, Julie Bergmann, Timothy Mackey, Quentin Eichbaum, Lotus McDougal and Thomas Novotny

The largest Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in recorded history required not only the greatest global health response in history, but also placed new demands on both the diplomatic corps and public health officials.  Coordinated action to address public health issues that cross national boundaries is referred to as global health diplomacy (GHD), broadly defined as political activity that meets dual goals of improving public health and strengthening relations among nations.  However, there is no GHD core competency model to inform training of professionals, or to help direct efforts requiring cross-disciplinary coordinated global health action.  No institution has yet developed a GHD core competency model which would help bridge the fields of global public health and foreign affairs, providing additional guidance to diplomats and public health officials to prepare for global health emergencies.  Without defined competencies in field of GHD, professionals changed with public health action may lack knowledge, skills, and abilities to effectively manage or lead during a global health emergency.

This research identifies and maps core competencies that can be used to address this gap in the training of professionals in the fields of foreign affairs and global public health.  We conducted focused internet searches to identify two core competency models in foreign affairs and six competency models in global public health.  Employing domain word counts, we compared models to determine degree of association, divergence, and emphasis. Based on this analysis, we propose a GHD core competency model to inform training within global public health and foreign affairs organizations and institutions. This initial model could assure that both foreign affairs and global health professionals have the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to support effective global health action.