The Role of International Organizations in Social Policy
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The Role of International Organizations in Social Policy

Ideas, Actors and Impact

Edited by Rune Ervik, Nanna Kildal and Even Nilssen

This book considers the role of international organizations and their promotion of ideas and recommendations in social and health policy. It explores a wide range of organizations, scrutinizing their ideas-based content, their role as policy actors and their impact on national policy.
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Chapter 10: Global Health Policy: What Role for International Governmental Organizations?

Christof Schiller, Henni Hensen and Stein Kuhnle


Christof Schiller, Henni Hensen and Stein Kuhnle INTRODUCTION Although the world has seen substantial improvements in health conditions during the last 100 years, health issues increasingly appear on the agenda at the international level due to the cross-border reach of a number of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria and bird flu. The need for strengthened international cooperation regarding health policy is generally acknowledged, but it tends to be the policy field where nation states defend their right of sovereignty most vigorously. As stated by leading health policy analysts: ‘Health, which at first instance seems to be the field most destined for joint action independent of territory (how often have we heard and used the phrase that disease knows no borders), remains a policy domain most protectively linked to the nation state’ (Kickbusch and de Leeuw 1999, p. 286). Health is a special field of social policy. Health care makes the most fundamental contribution to the promotion of equality of opportunity, and it is also claimed that it is distributed more equally than other social goods (Daniels et al. 2002). National health systems and policies vary enormously for political, cultural, ethical and economic reasons. Yet recently, notions of ‘global public health’ and ‘global health policy’ have been used to describe the heightened importance of international organizations in (national) health policy (Hein 2003; Kickbusch 2000). Their influence in health policy is assumed to have increased at the cost of national sovereignty. However, the way and the extent to which these...

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