Global health issues transcend national borders and state sovereignty. As a result, a collective response at the international level is necessary to effectively address these problems. This response, however, is not simply based on medical expertise or technology, but is largely dependent on politics. Health has become inextricably linked to policies developed by global governance, whether these policies involve the surveillance and the prevention of the spread of infectious disease across borders, the distribution and consumption of goods that pose a health risk through international commerce, the right to quality health for everyone, or the protection of human health from climate change and environmental degradation.
International relations theories provide a key analytical tool for understanding the dynamics of the political process in global governance in addressing health issues in an increasingly globalized world. Each chapter will features boxes highlighting case studies relevant to the material, discussion questions, and suggested readings.
1. International Relations Theory and Global Health / 2. Intergovernmental Organizations and Global Health Governance / 3. Non-State Actors and Global Health Governance / 4. Controlling Infectious Diseases / 5. Global Cooperation and Chronic Diseases / 6. Securitizing Global Health / 7. Health as an International Human Right / 8. Global Health and the Environment / Index
Cockerham (political science, Utah Valley Univ.) identifies the role of theories of international relations in global heath and global health governance. The first chapter covers theories such as realism and neorealism, liberalism and neoliberalism, constructivism, Marxism, and Neo-Marxism. Cockerham applies these theories to expectations of global health governance, and three major themes are addressed. First, theories are used to assess the barriers and opportunities that confront global health governance. Second, Cockerham examines the increasing importance of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and non-state organizations to promote public health. Examples of these IGOs include the World Health Organization, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations. The author uses each of the theories of international relations to assess how these IGOs have influenced global governance in public health. Finally, Cockerham assesses international law and agreements to assess their role in resolving problems and conflicts in global health. Critical global problems that are assessed with this perspective include controlling infectious or communicable diseases, global health security, chronic or non-communicable diseases, health as a right, and the environment.
Summing Up: Recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty and professionals.
Cockerham provides a superb introduction to the international politics of global health. The book gives a wide-ranging overview of the main actors and the key issues, and sets these firmly in the context of contemporary approaches to International Relations theory. A fantastic resource for students and others new to the rapidly-developing field of global governance and health.
Geoffrey Cockerham is associate professor of political science at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah.