The development of international health policies - accountability intact?

International health governance as it exists today is facing major structural challenges in view of globalization, the increased transfer of international health risks and the mounting challenge of health inequalities worldwide. As a consequence the capacity of nation states to ensure population health and to address major health determinants has been weakened. This paper explores health as an exemplary field to illustrate that we have entered a new era of public policy which is defined by increasing overlaps between domestic and foreign policy, multilateral and bilateral strategies and national and international interest. Cross border spill overs and externalities of national actions need to move into the core of public policy at the national and global level within a new rules based system. A new perspective on global health governance is further necessitated through the increased number of players in the global health arena. The organizational form that is emerging is based on networks and is characterized by shifting alliances and blurred lines of responsibility. The paper explores the emerging paradox of state sovereignty and makes a set of proposals to pool state sovereignty on health and structure the myriad of networks. Particular attention is given to the role of the World Health Organization within this process of change and adjustment. In using a framework from international relations analysis the paper explores how nation states are socialized into accepting new norms, values and perceptions of interest with regard to national and international health and what challenges emerge for the WHO in "inventing" global health policy.


Publication year:
2000
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In: Social science [and] medicine. - Oxford. - Vol. 51(2000), Issue 6, p. 979-989
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