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Bio Med Central Page 1 of 5 (page number not for citation purposes) Globalization and Health Open Access Review Global health priorities – priorities of the wealthy? Eeva Ollila* Address: Globalism and Social Policy Programme (GASPP), Welfare Research Group, National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health (Stakes), Helsinki, Finland Email: Eeva Ollila* - [email protected] * Corresponding author Abstract Health has gained importance on the global agenda. It has become recognized in forums where it was once not addressed. In this article three issues are considered: global health policy actors, global health priorities and the means of addressing the identified health priorities. I argue that the arenas for global health policy-making have shifted from the public spheres towards arenas that include the transnational for-profit sector. Global health policy has become increasingly fragmented and verticalized. Infectious diseases have gained ground as global health priorities, while non- communicable diseases and the broader issues of health systems development have been neglected. Approaches to tackling the health problems are increasingly influenced by trade and industrial interests with the emphasis on technological solutions. Global health policy actors The major actors in global health policy are changing. New actors are entering and old ones are losing power; the overall change has seen a shift from global nation-based health-policy-making structures towards more diversity that puts emphasis on private sector actors. In the 1980s and 1990s there was a shift in global health policy making from the UN agencies towards financial institutions. This shift has meant increasing attention being given to involv- ing private actors in health policy [1-4]. Towards the end of the 20 th century the UN increasingly collaborated with business, which subsequently increased the influence of private interests in the UN system. [5-8]. This develop- ment was partly due to the declining levels of develop- ment assistance of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries to the UN, which became particularly acute in the 1990s [9], and partly due to the fear that the UN would become margin- alized if it did not increase its collaboration with the cor- porate sector, which had gained power in overall policy- making [10]. In the UN forums, civil society has become recognized as an important body of actors in global policy-making, as seen at the UN Conference for Environment and Develop- ment in 1992, and at the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994, where women's organisations were instrumental in shaping the Pro- gramme of Action. Regarding health matters, the not-for- profit sectors of the civil society have played an important role for much longer, most notably in the debates con- cerning essential drugs, breast milk substitutes, and wean- ing foods in the 1970s and 1980s. [11]. More recently the public health NGOs have been important, for example, in
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