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U.N. Poised To Take On Challenge Of Global Health

“In just over two decades, global health has gained a political visibility and status that some authors have called a political revolution,” Ilona Kickbusch, director of the Global Health Programme at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, writes in a U.N. Chronicle opinion analysis. She reviews how the U.N. and its health agency, the WHO, have addressed global health issues, how funding for global health has increased but needs remain, and how the number of key players in the field has “increased considerably.”

Kickbusch concludes, “Global health deals with a wide range of concerns and tensions, not only between countries but between sectors, and between many different actors and interests. The growing complexity calls for better global health governance, including better coherence among multiple initiatives, clear distribution of responsibilities, and more transparency and accountability. The resulting debate revolves around key questions regarding where the leadership and authority on global health should lie, who should be involved, and what legitimate roles different actors could have, so that the potential of each of the diverse players can be utilized for the benefit of all. Who better to take on this challenge than the United Nations?” (December 2011).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.