GIGA Focus International Edition English

Global Health, Aid Effectiveness and the Changing Role of the WHO

Number 3 | 2010 | ISSN: 1862-3581

  • The fear of pandemics, the significance of health in the fight against poverty, and a proliferation of new actors have increasingly directed international attention towards global health. In this context, the financial resources available for global health as well as the flexibility in problem solving have increased significantly, but at the cost of a proliferation of public and private actors which tends to inhibit the effective use of these resources. The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness has been broadly embraced in global health, and there has been a reappraisal of the coordinating role of the World Health Organization (WHO).


    Since the 1990s the growing number of actors involved has considerably changed the field of global health governance (GHG). Partnerships between states, international governmental organizations (IGOs) such as the WHO, the pharmaceutical industry, and also civil society organizations have helped overcome conflicts between the profit-driven production of medicines and the health needs of poor countries. However, they have also led to a vast entanglement of responsibilities, with the WHO losing its profile as the central authority on global health. In recent years, however, the impacts of the Paris Declaration on GHG and a number of other processes have again strengthened the position of the WHO:

    • Important efforts have been undertaken to improve effectiveness in global health.

    • Initiatives at the country level have strengthened support for national health systems.

    • At the WHO two binding international agreements have been concluded and are now administered in Geneva: the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the (new) International Health Regulations. Increasing the participation of non-state actors through organizational reforms could further strengthen the WHO’s role.

    • In 2008 the WHA passed the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property Rights. The 2010 WHA discussed proposals to finance this strategy, but adjourned the decision to 2011.

    • On May 10, 2010, the Council of the European Union adopted the far-reaching Conclusions on the EU role in Global Health, supporting “increased leadership of the WHO at global, regional and country level” and improved access to medicines and health services in developing countries.


      How to cite this article

      Hein, Wolfgang, and Ilona Kickbusch (2010), Global Health, Aid Effectiveness and the Changing Role of the WHO, GIGA Focus International Edition English, 3, Hamburg: German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA),


      The GIGA Focus is an Open Access publication and can be read on the Internet and downloaded free of charge at According to the conditions of the Creative-Commons license Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0, this publication may be freely duplicated, circulated, and made accessible to the public. The particular conditions include the correct indication of the initial publication as GIGA Focus and no changes in or abbreviation of texts.

      The German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) – Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien in Hamburg publishes the Focus series on Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and global issues. The GIGA Focus is edited and published by the GIGA. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the institute. Authors alone are responsible for the content of their articles. GIGA and the authors cannot be held liable for any errors and omissions, or for any consequences arising from the use of the information provided.

      Prof. Dr. Ilona Kickbusch

      Prof. Dr. Ilona Kickbusch

      Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

      GIGA Working Papers | 08/2005

      Global Health Governance: Conflicts on Global Social Rights

      Lars Kohlmorgen

      Former GIGA Team member


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