Global Health Program

About the 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, civil society, and the general public meet the health challenges that arise in a globalizing world riven by deepening geopolitical tensions.

Infectious diseases cross borders through trade and travel. Diabetes, cancers, and other noncommunicable diseases are surging in low-income countries and threaten global economic development. Advances in science and technology improve our understanding of viruses, synthetic biology, and gene therapy, but raise biosecurity and biosafety risks and ethical questions. Climate change, urbanization, armed conflict, and still-nascent regulatory and health systems in lower-income nations have raised the priority of health challenges—from food insecurity, pollution, and humanitarian assistance to antibiotic resistance, substandard medicines, and tobacco use—on the agenda for policymakers, businesses, and local communities.

The world's changing health needs place new demands on global governance. Initiatives have made progress treating HIV/AIDS, preventing childhood illnesses, and reducing malaria in many parts of the world. Yet, sustaining and expanding such achievements is not guaranteed. The stability of financing for global health institutions and initiatives is in doubt. New actors in global health—from philanthropic foundations to NGOs to multinational corporations—create not only opportunities for partnership but also policy coordination and coherence challenges. Meaningful engagement of emerging economies, such as China and India, in global health governance remains limited. 

Effective management of the scientific, economic, and political complexities of global health issues requires evidence-based analysis and informed decision-making. The CFR Global Health program conducts rigorous research, provides practical policy proposals, and engages in meaningful discussions with policymakers, experts, and opinion leaders in order to facilitate a better understanding of pressing health problems. CFR's global health experts inform the policymaking community and the general public through books, op-eds, articles, and online interactives on topics ranging from global health security to the rise of noncommunicable diseases.