February 11, 2014 — A new Commission from The Lancet and the University of Oslo, of which Jennifer Leaning, FXB Center Director, and Julio Frenk, Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, are both members, has issued an urgent call for a reform of global decision-making to address health inequalities worldwide. The current global governance system fails to protect the public’s health and the distribution of health risks remains unjustly concentrated, the Commission on Global Governance for Health reports today in an extensive paper published by the Lancet.
Launched in Oslo in December 2011 at the invitation of The Lancet and the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre, The Lancet-University of Oslo Commission is comprised of 18 leading policymakers and researchers drawn from around the world. The Commission’s mandate was to engage sectors beyond the field of public health to generate new research and analysis that could be applied to the key challenges of global health. The Commission has spent the last two years examining the barriers and possible solutions to health equity across several policy areas that require improved global governance, including: “economic crises and austerity measures, knowledge and intellectual property, foreign investment treaties, food security, transnational corporate activity, irregular migration, and violent conflict.”
In “The political origins of health inequity: prospects for change,” the report’s authors urge for cross-sectoral action to promote better global health. “With globalisation, health inequity increasingly results from transnational activities that involve actors with different interests and degrees of power: states, transnational corporations, civil society, and others,” The Lancet-University of Oslo Commission writes. “The decisions, policies, and actions of such actors are, in turn, founded on global social norms. Their actions are not designed to harm health, but can have negative side-effects that create health inequities. The norms, policies, and practices that arise from global political interaction across all sectors that affect health are what we call global political determinants of health… The Commission argues that global political determinants that unfavourably affect the health of some groups of people relative to others are unfair, and that at least some harms could be avoided by improving how global governance works.”
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