Revealing Power in Truth; Comment on “Knowledge, Moral Claims and the Exercise of Power in Global Health”

Document Type : Commentary


Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada


Jeremy Shiffman’s editorial appropriately calls on making all forms of power more apparent and accountable, notably productive power derived from expertise and claims to moral authority. This commentary argues that relationships based on productive power can be especially difficult to reveal in global health policy because of embedded notions about the nature of power and politics. Yet, it is essential to recognize that global health is shot through with power relationships, that they can take many forms, and that their explicit acknowledgement should be part of, rather than factored out of, any reform of global health governance.


Main Subjects

  1. Shively P. Power and Choice, An introduction to political science. 10th edition.  New York:  McGraw-Hill; 2006.
  2. Mackenbach JP.  Politics is nothing but medicine at a larger scale:  reflections on public health’s biggest idea. J Epidemiol Community Med 2009; 63: 181-4. doi: 10.1136/jech.2008.077032
  3. Shiffman J.  Knowledge, moral claims and the exercise of power in global health.  Int J Health Policy Manag 2014; 3: 297-9.  doi: 10.15171/ijhpm.2014.120
  4. Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).  IHME Principles [internet].  [cited 11 February 2015]. Available from:
  5. The Lancet.  About The Lancet medical journal.  [cited 13 February 2015]. Available from:
  6. UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  Sustainable development goals.  Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform [internet]. [cited 13 February 2015]. Available from:
  7. WHO/UNICEF. Ending Preventable Child Deaths from Pneumonia and Diarrhoea by 2025. Geneva: WHO; 2013. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(08)60901-0
  8. McColl K. Europe told to deliver more aid for health. Lancet 2008; 371: 2072-3.
  9. Enserink M. After the windfall. Science 2014; 345: 1258-9. doi: 10.1126/science.345.6202.1258