Global Health Program

The Global Health program at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) provides independent, evidence-based analysis and recommendations to help policymakers, business leaders, journalists, and the general public meet the health challenges of a globalized world.

Today, health issues that were once confined to one country or region can affect millions of people everywhere as infectious diseases cross borders with trade and travel. Diabetes, cancers, and other noncommunicable diseases that once predominantly afflicted affluent countries are on the rise in developing countries and a threat to global economic development. Advances in science and technology bring new hope for understanding viruses, synthetic biology, and gene therapy, but raise risks of bioterror and accidental release. Climate change, urbanization, and the still nascent regulatory and health care systems in emerging economies have put a new set of health challenges—from food insecurity, antibiotic resistance, and environmental pollution to road safety, tobacco use, and substandard medicines—on the agenda for policymakers, businesses, and local communities.

The world's changing health needs place new demands on international institutions and initiatives. Global health programs have made enormous progress treating HIV/AIDS, preventing childhood illnesses, and improving maternal health, but more remains to be done even as the long-term financing for these initiatives is in doubt. The engagement of new actors in global health—from philanthropic foundations to NGOs to multinational corporations—has created opportunities for partnership but also challenges of coordination and policy coherence. Although health spending is increasing in developing countries, in China and India in particular, the engagement of these countries in global health governance remains limited.

Addressing these and other global health challenge requires evidence-based analysis and informed decision-making. Through rigorous research, practical policy proposals, and extensive discussions with policymakers, experts, and opinion leaders, the CFR Global Health Program facilitates timely debate and better understanding of pressing global health topics. CFR's global health experts work to inform the general public about these issues by regularly publishing op-eds and articles and by producing online interactives on topics ranging from vaccine-preventable outbreaks to the rise of noncommunicable diseases.

Roundtable Series

Global Health Governance Roundtable Series

Director: Yanzhong Huang, Senior Fellow for Global Health
October 2010—Present

The goal of the series is to examine the changing landscape of global health governance in the context of emerging powers, empowered non-governmental actors, and shifting health priorities. A number of questions will be discussed, including: What effect will the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases have on the economic growth of India and China? Can the WHO maintain a central role in global health governance, with competition from other actors (e.g., World Bank, WTO, MNCs, Gates Foundation) and the proliferation of new initiatives not housed by WHO (e.g., Global Fund)? How will the emerging powers (e.g., China, India, Brazil) and the rising nonstate actors affect the international community's ability to set priorities and define the upper limits of acceptable action? How does the entrance of health into the realm of "high politics" affect our way of handling transnational health threats?

Four roundtables will take place throughout the winter and spring in New York and Washington, DC.

This roundtable series is sponsored by the International Institutions and Global Governance program and made possible by the generous support of the Robina Foundation.


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