Welcome back to this two-part series on ‘whos who’ in global health! With an ever increasing plurality of actors on the global health scene, the complexity of governance heightens year on year. My last post discussed the workings of the UN and its affiliated organisations and now I will attempt to decipher the roles of some of the other actors!
When talking about global health governance, we cannot ignore the crucial role of national governments. At the Earth Summit in Rio (1992), under the guidance of the UN, governments from across the globe adopted a programme for action. Amongst a myriad of global goals, this programme included a target for rich nations to donate 0.7% of their GNP for ‘Official Development Assistance’ (ODA). This ODA had the aim of helping the poorer nations on their paths to development, yet barely any of the rich countries managed to attain their share of donation. In addition to these governments providing the aid, governments in lower income developing countries (LIDC) play the vital role of coordinating these aid efforts in their country. Yet as well as promoting cooperation of global health organisations, conflict of interest between external organisations and these governments is definitely not unheard of!
So who are these external organisations? Well in addition to those linked to the UN that I have already discussed, such as the World Health Organisation, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are a key player on the global health scene! NGOs cover a vast array of specialisation, ranging from development organisations such as Oxfam, to organisations that work specifically with vulnerable populations, for example Save the Children. Yet despite NGOs being valued for having specialised areas of expertise, they are often criticised for focussing on short term projects rather than more sustainable interventions.
In addition to NGOs, there is another growing sector of global health governance: public-private partnerships. These ‘partnerships’ bring together state (public) and non-state (private) actors and typically target a particular health policy issue or problem. One of the largest public-private partnerships is GAVI, the Global Vaccine Alliance. This international organisation brings together the public and private sectors to strive towards the common goal of creating access to vaccines in the worlds poorest countries.
And that concludes this ‘who’s who’ of global health! If you want to find out more about any of the organisations I’ve mentioned, their websites are mostly really good for info - about their main goals and agenda. Obviously I have only scraped the surface of actors in global health governance but I hope I’ve given a comprehensive overview of the main ones worth knowing about!