Trade, foreign policy, diplomacy and health

Global Public Goods for Health - A reading companion

The Global Public Goods for Health reading companion is designed as a nine sessions distance learning module.
If you are new to these issues, we recommend that you view the sessions in numerical order.
However, each session also stands alone.
Further reading for each session is also available.

1. Global Public Goods and Health: concepts and issues

David Woodward, Richard D Smith

The aim of this session is to outline briefly the conceptual foundation of the GPG concept, how this concept may apply to health and health care, and highlight the economic and political dimensions important in securing the provision of Global Public Goods for Health.

2. Polio Eradication

Bruce Aylward, Arnab Acharya, Sarah England, Mary Agocs, Jennifer Linkins

After 15 years of programme implementation the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is unique in offering the most well developed instance of a GPGH in practice. As such it provides substantial experience from which lessons may be drawn to facilitate the production of other possible GPGH. This session therefore considers the politics, practicalities and economics of producing the GPEI, summarizing lessons learnt.

3. Tuberculosis control

Jim Yong Kim, Aaron Shakow, Arachu Castro, Chris Vande, Paul Farmer

This session introduces TB as an infectious disease, describing the most common signs and symptoms affecting sick patients, outlines the social and economic consequences of widespread infection, especially among the poor, details the global response to the epidemic, highlighting the notable success of the WHO recommended strategy for TB control (DOTS), presents the argument for TB control as a global public good, describes the political and economic barriers to effective global TB control and discusses strategies for achieving the elimination of TB.

4. Antimicrobial drug resistance

Richard D Smith, Johanna Coast

This session applies the 'Global Public Goods for Health' concept to the problem of AMR, and to strategies to contain AMR. It describes AMR, its conceptualisation within economics, whether containment of AMR per se is a GPGH, and/or whether strategies to contain AMR are themselves GPGH, the role international bodies may play in ensuring the provision and finance of AMR containment measures, and the usefulness of the GPGH concept when considering AMR, and suggests future research priorities

5. Genomic knowledge

Halla Thorsteinsdóttir, Abdallah S Daar, Richard D Smith, Peter A Singer

This session considers the value of the GPGH concept to the analysis of the global generation, dissemination and utilisation of genomics knowledge, and describes briefly what genomics is, and its applications, outlines the potential costs and benefits of genomics, considers the GPG elements of genomics, outlines strategies for promoting and financing the production of genomics knowledge, and concluding with a discussion of the value of the global public goods concept for the development of genomics.

6. Public health infrastructure and knowledge

John Powles, Flavio Comim

The purpose of this session is to examine the extent to which these infrastructures may usefully be seen as either global public goods for health (GPGH) in themselves, or, more indirectly, as 'access goods', which serve to support other GPGH. The session considers the concept of public health infrastructures and notes, in particular, the extent to which such infrastructures tend to be embedded in other social structures, public health infrastructures through the lens of economics, and considers the extent to which they may appropriately and usefully be viewed as (global) public goods, as intermediate goods or as access goods, the action that might be taken to consolidate and build public health infrastructures, and notes the fundamental role played in such endeavours by the creation and transmission of knowledge, and concludes with an assessment of the usefulness of the GPGH concept.

7. International Law

David P Fidler

This session focuses on international law as a tool in the production of GPGH, describing the importance of international law and its practical and normative elements, the various actors that are the subjects of international law, the main sources of international law, the use of international law in the production of GPGH, a number of limitations in the use of international law in this context, and the key issues in the application of international law to GPGH production.

8. International health regulations and epidemic control

Johan Giesecke

This session considers the role of the IHR in co-ordinating international action to control the spread of epidemics from one country to the next from the GPGH perspective. The ubiquitous freedom from epidemics is the final GPGH and that surveillance and control mechanisms to achieve this constitute an intermediate GPGH. Thus, the legislation and administrative structures to support this, including the IHR, may be seen as an enabling GPGH.

9. GPGH: use and limitations

Richard D Smith, David Woodward

This session draws together the main messages and lessons that arise from these other sessions, in order to draw some conclusions concerning the usefulness and limitations of the GPG concept in the context of health, and consider the next step for the GPG concept in health. It considers the primary importance of correctly identifying a global public good for health, aspects of the 'production' of a GPGH, the importance of knowledge, international legislation and access goods in securing a GPGH, the means by which the costs and benefits of GPGH may be assessed, the relationship between GPGH and wider issues of human rights and equity, the relationship between GPGH and non-health GPGs, funding of GPGH and the applicability and usefulness of the GPG concept in health.