Communicable disease control: a 'Global Public Good' perspective

Health Policy Plan. 2004 Sep;19(5):271-8. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czh032.


Despite the increasing 'globalization' of health, the responsibility for it remains primarily national, generating a potential mismatch between global health problems and current institutions and mechanisms to deal with them. The 'Global Public Good' (GPG) concept has been suggested as a framework to address this mismatch in different areas of public policy. This paper considers the application of the GPG concept as an organizing principle for communicable disease control (CDC), considering in particular its potential to improve the health and welfare of the developing world. The paper concludes that there are significant limitations to the GPG concept's effectiveness as an organizing principle for global health priorities, with respect to CDC. More specifically, there are few areas of CDC which qualify as GPG, and even among those that can be considered GPGs, it is not necessarily appropriate to provide everything which can be considered a GPG. It is therefore suggested that it may be more useful to focus instead on the failure of 'collective action', where the GPG concept may then: (1) provide a rationale to raise funds additional to aid from developed countries' domestic budgets; (2) promote investment by developed countries in the health systems of developing countries; (3) promote strategic partnerships between developed and developing countries to tackle major global communicable diseases; and (4) guide the political process of establishing, and mechanisms for providing and financing, global CDC programmes with GPG characteristics, and GPGs which have benefits for CDC. In short, the GPG concept is not without limitations and weaknesses as an organizing principle, but does provide, at least in some areas, guidance in improving collective action at the international level for the improvement of global CDC.

MeSH terms

  • Communicable Disease Control / economics
  • Communicable Disease Control / organization & administration*
  • Developed Countries / economics
  • Developing Countries / economics
  • Financing, Government
  • Global Health*
  • Health Priorities*
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*
  • Social Responsibility*
  • Social Welfare*