Global Health Governance Challenges 2016 – Are We Ready?

Document Type : Editorial


Global Health Programme, Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland


The year 2016 could turn out to be a turning point for global health, new political realities and global insecurities will test governance and financing mechanisms in relation to both people and planet. But most importantly political factors such as the global power shift and “the rise of the rest” will define the future of global health. A new mix of health inequity and security challenges has emerged and the 2015 humanitarian and health crises have shown the limits of existing systems. The global health as well as the humanitarian system will have to prove their capacity to respond and reform. The challenge ahead is deeply political, especially for the rising political actors. They are confronted with the consequences of a model of development that has neglected sustainability and equity, and was built on their exploitation. Some direction has been given by the path breaking international conferences in 2015. Especially the agreement on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris agreement on climate change will shape action. Conceptually, we will need a different understanding of global health and its ultimate goals - the health of people can no longer be seen separate from the health of the planet and wealth measured by parameters of growth will no longer ensure health.


Commentaries Published on this Paper

  • Business as Usual: A Lack of Institutional Innovation in Global Health Governance; Comment on “Global Health Governance Challenges 2016 – Are We Ready?”

          Abstract | PDF

  • A New Gilded Age, and What It Means for Global Health; Comment on “Global Health Governance Challenges 2016 – Are We Ready?

          Abstract | PDF

  • History, Structure and Agency in Global Health Governance; Comment on “Global Health Governance Challenges 2016 – Are We Ready?

          Abstract | PDF



    1. Obama to host high-level refugee summit amid demands for investment program. Deutsche Welle. December 22, 2015. Accessed February 25, 2016.
    2. World Health Organization (WHO). Report of the Ebola interim assessment panel. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO; 2015.
    3. Lang T, Rayner G. Beyond the Golden Era of public health: charting a path from sanitarianism to ecological public health. Public Health. 2015;129(10):1369-1382. doi:10.1016/j.puhe.2015.07.042
    4. Purdy J. After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene. Harvard University Press; 2015.
    5. United Nations (UN). Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development. Accessed January 6, 2016.
    6. United Nations (UN). Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Accessed January 6, 2016.
    7. United Nations (UN). Adoption of the Paris Agreement. Accessed January 6, 2016.
    8. World Trade Organization (WTO). 10th WTO Ministerial Conference - WTO members secure “historic” Nairobi Package for Africa and the world. Accessed January 6, 2016.
    9. Addis Ababa Conference Opens Path for Robust Implementation of New Sustainable Development Agenda.  African Press Organization. July 17, 2015. Accessed January 6, 2016.
    10. Slaughter  AM. The Paris Approach to Global Governance. Project Syndicate. December 28, 2015. Accessed January 6, 2016.
    11. Gostin  LO. A framework convention on global health: health for all, justice for all. JAMA. 2012;307(19):2087-2092. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.4395
    12. Zakaria F. The Rise of the Rest. Fareed Zakaria. May 12, 2008.  Accessed January 6, 2016.
    13. Fisher DR, Green JF. Understanding disenfranchisement: civil society and developing countries' influence and participation in global governance for sustainable development. Global Environmental Politics. 2004;4(3):65-84. doi:10.1162/1526380041748047
    14. Sun Y. Xi and the 6th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation: Major commitments, but with questions. Brookings. December 7, 2015. Accessed January 6, 2016.
    15. Carothers T, Samet-Marram O. The new global marketplace of political change. Washington: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; 2015. Accessed January 6, 2016.
    16. Borisov T. New Development Bank to issue first loan in Chinese currency.  Russia Beyond The Headlines. July 29, 2015. Accessed January 6, 2016.
    17. Jamison  DT, Summers LH, Alleyne G, et al. Global health 2035: a world converging within a generation. Lancet. 2013;382(9908):1898-1955. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(13)62105-4
    18. Ross C. Building BRICs: pharma's key emerging markets are becoming giants. Pharmaceutical Market Europe. June 20, 2013. Accessed January 6, 2016.
    19. World Health Organization (WHO). Framework of engagement with non-State actors (FENSA). Accessed January 7, 2016.
    20. World Health Organization (WHO). Improving the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons: report by the Secretariat. Accessed January 7, 2016.
    21. Moser  KA. JMG Le Clézio: A Concerned Citizen of the Global Village. Lexington books; 2013.
    22. Ottersen OP, Dasgupta J, Blouin C, et al. The political origins of health inequity: prospects for change. Lancet. 2014;383(9917):630-667. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(13)62407-1
    23. Kickbusch I.  Global Health - A definition. Yale University; 2002. Accessed January 7, 2016.
    24. Whitmee S, Haines A, Beyrer C, et al.  Safeguarding human health in the Anthropocene epoch: report of The Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on planetary health. Lancet. 2015;386(10007):1973-2028. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(15)60901-1
    25. Beck U. Living in the world risk society: A Hobhouse Memorial Public Lecture given on Wednesday 15 February 2006 at the London School of Economics. Econ Soc. 2006;35(3):329-45.
    26. World Health Organization (WHO). Climate change and infectious diseases. Accessed January 6, 2016.
    27. Rosling H. Facts and Fiction on Global health. Accessed January 6, 2016.
    28. Hansen ME, Gjefsen T, Lie KK. The End of Nordic Exceptionalism. Accessed January 7, 2016.
    29. Department for International Development (DFID). Policy coherence for development. Accessed January 7, 2016.
    30. United  Nations  High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). UN Convention and protocol relating to the status of refugees. Accessed January 6, 2016.
    31. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Geneva Conventions. Accessed January 6, 2016.
    32. Anyangwe E. Is it time to rethink the divide between humanitarian and development funding? The Guardian. December 4, 2015. Accessed January 6, 2016.
    33. United Nations (UN). UN to convene first ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in 2016. UN News Center. September 26, 2013. Accessed January 6, 2016.
    34. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). UNAIDS Strategy 2016–2021. Accessed January 6, 2016.
    35. Myers M. Resilient Systems: The Next Big Evolution in Global Health. The Rockefeller Foundation. May 8, 2015. Accessed January 6, 2016
    36. Marmot M. Achieving health equity: from root causes to fair outcomes. Lancet. 2007;370(9593):1153-1163. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(07)61385-3
    37. Werner D, Thuman C, Maxwell J. Where There Is no Doctor: A Village Healthcare Handbook. California: Hesperian Health Guides; 2011.