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, 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 eliminating malaria from many parts of the world, 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 challenges 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.