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Global public goods for health; health economic public perspectives
  1. Inge Kaul

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    Edited by Richard Smith, Robert Beaglehole, David Woodward, Nick Drager. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003, pp 287. ISBN 0-19-852544-3 (hardback), 0-19-852798-5 (paperback)

    This volume explores the applicability of the concept of global public goods to health and health related issues as well as the question of the added value—for example, in terms of new analytical insights or a better understanding of various policy approaches and instruments—of looking at challenges through the lens of global public goods. As the stage setting chapter 1 by Woodward and Smith notes, “as globalization progresses… matters which were once confined to national policy are now issues of global impact and concern; yet no one nation necessarily has the ability, or the incentive, to address the[se] problems” (page 3). So cross border cooperation is important in order for a global public good, let us say, polio eradication, to emerge and to be available for the consumption—or enjoyment—of local communities or countries.

    The volume’s chapter analyses are written by a multi-disciplinary team of authors and address three main sets of issues: (1) the global public goods properties of the control or eradication of select communicable conditions (including polio, tuberculosis, antimicrobial drug resistance), and the health consequences of a number of global environmental “bads” (such as the global climate change or the depletion of the ozone layer); (2) the importance of knowledge (including medical knowledge, genomics knowledge, and public health infrastructure and knowledge) as a critical input to people’s improved health status and enhanced public health conditions; and (3) how to enable global public goods for health, such as international law and health regulations. However, running through the individual chapter analyses also are common themes. Among them are such issues as the prioritisation of global public goods and the politics of their provision, their “production”, and financing.

    The discussions on these themes are analytically rigorous yet clear and focused, leading to practical and pragmatic—yet in part, also innovative—policy conclusions and recommendations. Thus, the book should be of interest to researchers and students as well as policymakers and practitioners alike.

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