Trade, foreign policy, diplomacy and health

1. Global Public Goods and Health: concepts and issues

David Woodward, Richard D Smith


This session looks at:

  • public goods
  • global public goods
  • health as a global public good
  • global public goods for health
  • financing global public goods for health

Public goods have, for centuries, been part of the economic analysis of government policy at the national level. As globalization progresses, it is becoming clear in many areas that matters which were once confined to national policy are now issues of global impact and concern. For example, carbon emissions and global warming not only affect the nation involved in their production, but also impact significantly on other nations; yet no one nation necessarily has the ability, or the incentive, to address the problem. Recognition of this led to the development of the concept of Global Public Goods.
Health too is an ever more international phenomenon. The most obvious example of this is in communicable disease, which is often a problem against which no single country can orchestrate a response sufficient to protect the health of its population. With health moving up the global agenda, it is therefore an opportune time to consider the application of the Global Public Good concept to health and health care.
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.