Geneva, the Arena of Global Health

Runpeng Sun
Class of 2024, Master of Science in Global Health Program, Duke Kunshan University

“Conducting overseas fieldwork was the most significant reason that attracted me to apply for the Duke Kunshan MSc Global Health program.”

Sun Runpeng (Class of 2024) spent the summer of 2023 in Geneva at the Global Fund, combining his field research with an internship to investigate the issue of fund allocation in global health projects.

“My previous academic background primarily focused on one health, but I always wished for an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the operation and management of international organizations. Through the network of DKU Global Health Research Center, I connected with Dr. Button Zhao from the Global Fund. He became my thesis advisor, guiding me to explore and evaluate resources allocation in low- and middle-income countries, providing reference for future optimization.”

Runpeng with his advisor Dr. Button Zhao

During his time in Geneva, Runpeng conducted semi-structured interviews with 17 staff members from different teams at the Global Fund, collecting detailed qualitative research data. Besides, he gathered data from internal and external sources for analysis. He also received support from Shreya Ramesh, who is a current public health student at Baylor University.

“This research topic, in a sense, provides an excellent perspective for observing the operation of international organizations,” Runpeng remarked.

Geneva is hailed as the “Nerve Center” of global health. Different international organizations establish headquarters or offices in the city, influencing, collaborating, or even competing with each other. Decisions on strategic priorities and resource allocation for numerous global health issues are discussed and announced in Geneva.

Zhangyang Pan (MS’24), Dr. Button Zhao (Runpeng’s advisor), Chenxinan Ma (MS’23), Runpeng Sun (MS’24). Zhangyang and Chenxinan, as fellows of the 2023 Duke Global Policy Program in Geneva, were visiting Global Fund.

He noted that, from his observation, the traditional approach of allocating project funds and resources based on silo disease areas may face challenges and uncertainties due to the increasing complexities of global health issues.

In addition to his research project, he also assisted and supported the daily work of the Global Fund’s Evaluation and Impact Team, forming friendships with staff from various international organizations.

working at the Global Fund

Runpeng described this experience as transformative. “The vibrant community in Geneva shaped my professional outlook. I met many young people working in Geneva. Their dedication to make a difference in global affairs motivates me to pursue the vision of a better world.”