Global Health and Global Governance: Prioritizing Health within the Framework of the Millennium Development Goals

January 14, 2005

Introduction and Overview

Global health conditions are in a state of crisis. Not only are poor health conditions in poor countries ravaging lives and restraining development, but the HIV/AIDS pandemic is threatening to undermine progress on all other fronts in developing countries and menacing the sense of health security in industrial countries.

A state of crisis can help galvanize action. But urgency can crowd out systemic approaches needed for sustainability. The question then is how to galvanize global action on health in such a way that it addresses the HIV/AIDS crisis through measures which strengthen public health systems in poor countries and catalyze policies and institutional change which put countries on a trajectory of long-term sustainability.

This short note makes three points: (i) the prioritization of global health needs to be in the context of the multisectoral approach embodied in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 which will generate higher yield results and long-run sustainability; (ii) to succeed, a global action plan for health must be set in motion simultaneously with global action plans in education, environment, and water & sanitation which are each critical to the success of global health and long-run sustainability; and (iii) the prioritization of global health must emanate from a political process like the L-20 which can mobilize resources, maintain continuous visibility and monitor results, strengthening global governance in the process.