Global factors that influence your health

New thematic issues for the Panel.

Extractive industries. Photo: Pexels

Extractive industries are accused of land-grabbing and loss of biodiversity, which has direct and indirect health implications. Photo: Oil sands mine, Canda. Elias Schewel via Flickr.

Good health is not only determined by whether you have a high income and live in a country with a well-functioning health sector. And many determinants of health are strongly influenced by forces outside the control of national government: for example, international trade agreements (TIAs) and the activities of international firms engaged in extractive industries. And new and powerful non-state actors are increasingly influencing the health agenda.

These will be the subjects of three upcoming papers of the Independent Panel on Global Governance for Health.

Trade agreements, SDGs and health

The Panel has just recently published two articles (in The Lancet and Journal of World Trade) that address the health implications of international trade and investment agreements (TIAs). Building further on these articles, the Panel will take a closer look at TIAs in relation to the SDGs. For example, while the SDGs underline ‘health for all’, trade agreements will limit national policy space for regulating prices of medicines and the provision of health services.

Extractive industry and health

Extractive industries have direct and indirect health implications for people across the world. Transnational companies, in extracting both material and financial resources, are accused of land grabbing and causing the loss of indigenous livelihoods, and conflicts – all of which harm people’s health. At the same time, they are providers of raw materials needed in the global supply chains of consumer goods.

Silicon Valley and the global health agenda

To an increasing extent, philanthropic organizations adopt methods from Silicon Valley and venture capitalism. The concept of return on investment has been very influential for social entrepreneurship in international development. When wealthy people across the world wish to make investments and do good at the same time, they often look to global health. As the donations from philanthrocapitalism are growing, the ethical principles, governance structures, power relations and accountability of these organizations need to be addressed.

In sum, these issues show how health is determined by factors extending well beyond the health sector. To improve global health, we must address the structural systems that are too often overlooked.

The Independent Panel on Global Governance for Health met in London to discuss work on these three upcoming publications.

Published Mar. 16, 2017 11:47 AM - Last modified Mar. 21, 2017 11:44 AM