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Unformatted text preview: Globalization and Health Review BioMed Central Open Access 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* - * Corresponding author Published: 22 April 2005 Globalization and Health 2005, 1:6 doi:10.1186/1744-8603-1-6 Received: 01 December 2004 Accepted: 22 April 2005 This article is available from: © 2005 Ollila; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. 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 noncommunicable 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 involving private actors in health policy [1-4]. Towards the end of the 20th century the UN increasingly collaborated with business, which subsequently increased the influence of private interests in the UN system. [5-8]. This development was partly due to the declining levels of development 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 marginalized if it did not increase its collaboration with the cor- porate sector, which had gained power in overall policymaking [10]. In...
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