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Towards a more sustainable globalisation: the role of the public health community
  1. Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Team, Tobacco Free Initiative, World Health Organisation, Geneva, Switzerland (

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    In her article Fran Baum is correct in pointing out that the political complexities of our globalised world must be taken into account by public health professionals.1 Global health futures are directly or indirectly associated with the transnational economic, social, and technological changes taking place in the world. Issues such as poverty, equity, and justice must be firmly rooted in any discussions aimed at improving global public health. However, globalisation is a “janus faced” creature: the double face of globalisation, one promising and the other threatening, is a fact of life as humanity is being catapulted into a more interdependent future.2 While Baum maps out a strong argument concerning the threats of globalisation, especially some of the economic threats, she does not pay much attention to important aspects of globalisation that can, potentially, be harnessed by the public health community to reverse negative trends and to forward public health goals. Therefore, rather than expanding the list of “global bads” associated with global interconnectedness, many of which have been enumerated in Baum's analysis, we shall try to tip the balance somewhat by mentioning some of the under-utilised opportunities associated with global change. In this vein, we will briefly mention three perceived opportunities.

    Firstly, it is important to emphasise that globalisation is in fact a multifaceted phenomenon. It should not be assumed that the implications of globalisation for public health are all negative. Globalisation is not just “unfettered market liberalism”; but it is the process of increasing economic, political, and social interdependence and global integration that takes place as capital, traded goods, persons, concepts, images, ideas, and values diffuse across state boundaries.3 While it is imperative that public health professionals work to minimise the risks and threats associated with globalisation, public health must also take advantage of the opportunities …

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