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date: 28 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The international governance of health predates the establishment of the World Health Organization in 1948. This chapter, however, argues that over the past two decades two major transformations have reshaped the politics of global health governance. The first is the emergence of the narrative of global health, which has created a perceived requirement to place increased emphasis on global governance mechanisms. This in turn implies that power should reside less at the national level and more at the global. Second, the institutional ‘architecture’ has been transformed by the emergence of new actors who are having an impact on health policy and outcomes. Combined, these two transformations have had a number of political effects, including a higher profile for global health issues and especially crises; a diffusion of power and authority; the creation of a ‘market’ for funding, with consequences in turn for how the ‘power of the purse’ operates; an increased expectation of the ability of global institutions to act to prevent or mitigate crises; and competing norms over what health is for.

Keywords: global governance, globalisation, health networks, power and authority in global health, World Health Organization, Ebola

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