Ignoring the political economy of global health governance in considering WHO’s shortcomings obscures major threats to health equity. A recent proposal to ‘outsource’ WHO functions illustrates.

People’s Health Movement 12 October, 2016

The current round of WHO reform has critical implications for global health equity. Shortcomings in WHO’s performance have been widely discussed (Clift 2014), most notably the delays in mounting an effective response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 (Clift 2014, Gostin and Friedman 2014, Ebola Interim Assessment Panel 2015). The causes of such shortcomings and directions for reform have been particularly controversial. Proposals for reform can be grouped broadly into those which locate the future of WHO within the political economy of global health governance and those who understand WHO as a purely technical body: setting standards; collecting, analysing and publishing data; guiding the fight against polio, etc. The People’s Health Movement insists that technical deliberations over global health – be it access to medicines, or action on obesity, or health security – must be understood in the context of globalisation and corporate pressures for global economic integration.

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