Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Influence And Opportunity: Reflections On The U.S. Role In Global Public Health

by Ilona Kickbusch. HEALTH A F FA I R S ~ Vo l u m e 2 1 , Nu m b e r 6. November/December 2002. Page 131 to 141

"These are illustrations of the present U.S. tendency to move out of multilateral approaches and toward reinforcing global unilateralism at a time when many of the health issues require a truly global response and the cooperation of many actors. In health, as in other arenas, the United States retreats when it sees a threat to its own economic or domestic policy interests, including upcoming elections. The United States is not particularly active in support of the International Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, despite having some of the most restrictive laws within its own borders. It has supported industry positions during the negotiations on TRIPS (Agreements on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights), and it sided with a group of nondemocratic governments at a recent UN Special Summit on Children on matters of reproductive health, despite being a world champion on human rights. Increasingly, it seems that the U.S. domestic agenda is driving the global agenda." (Pages 136-137)

The author makes a concise analysis of the U.S. role in the different trends on international health, remarking its relation with the internal affairs. Doing this, doctor Kickbusch shows the blurred the line that divides a policy from being domestic to foreign has turned to be, making clear which of these is the critical issue when trying to work out global initiatives. I recommend this article to get a good insight of the real possibility of a world social contract and the recognition of the global public goods by looking through the eye of one of the most important actors. Also to have some clues about a very vulnerable social minority who have not got the enough attention or any help from the international community: those who elect the most powerful decision makers of the world.

Oscar Andres Gomez Salgado
First Year Master Student
Human Security and Environment Program
Professor Kimura Laboratory
Tohoku University


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