Global health governance in international society

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Over the course of a single generation, the international community has undergone a radical shift in its views on its collective obligation to address health in low- and middle-income countries. This shift toward accepting the need to respond to global health concerns is rhetorical, behavioral, and financial—and has been maintained even in light of the incredible economic issues and austerity policies that have faced high-income states since 2008. What explains this shift in the international community’s sense of obligation and the necessity of actuating an effective response? This article argues that the role and prominence of global health governance within international society reflects its emergence as a secondary institution within international society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)583-600
Number of pages18
JournalGlobal Governance
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Global health governance did not suddenly appear in international society; its place and stature is the result of its evolution since the nineteenth century and its gradual embrace by international society. The history of global health governance goes back to 1834, when the first proposal for an international conference on harmonizing cholera control procedures emerged.42 It took nearly sixty years before the 1892 International Sanitary Conference, held in Vienna, produced an agreement on limited quarantine measures and medical inspections for ships passing through the Suez Canal carrying pilgrims to Mecca for the hajj.43This first agreement spawned additional agreements on disease monitoring. It also gave rise to international organizations specifically dedicated to dealing with cross-border health concerns such as the International Sanitary Bureau, the International Office of Public Hygiene, and the League of Nations Health Office. The philanthropic organization started by the world’s then richest man, the Rockefeller Foundation, took a particularly keen interest in international health and provided funding to various health campaigns.44After World War II, the international community supported the creation of the World Health Organization.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Lynne Rienner Publishers. All rights resreved.


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