To Advance Human Health, WHO Should Incorporate Insight From Behavioral Research Into Its Policy Initiatives
Scientific American: The World Health Organization Needs to Put Human Behavior at the Center of Its Initiatives
Saad B. Omer, William H. Foege chair in global health and professor of global health, epidemiology, and pediatrics at Emory University, and Robb Butler, social scientist at the School of Global Health at the University of Copenhagen
“…While behavioral tools have been used for health promotion for several decades, they are inconsistently included in global health policy-making. Fortunately, there are a few models for incorporating insights from behavioral research into large-scale policy initiatives. One approach, used by many governments and some multi-lateral institutions, is establishing so called ‘nudge units.’ These units use lessons from behavioral economics and psychology to inform public policy … This … is precisely the right time for establishing a nudge unit at WHO. … As heath ministers and global health leaders prepare to convene at the World Health Assembly in Geneva this month, the WHO would be well-advised to reflect. The WHO was established to advance human health — and human behavior is a core determinant of human health and wellbeing. Now is the time for this fact to [be] fully accommodated in its structure and programs” (5/9).