The critical topic of global health governance is the main theme for a conference in Brisbane on September 4 and 5.

The Crisis of Global Health Governance, is sponsored by the Griffith Research Program in Security, Democracy and Public Policy.

Health is fundamental to individual well-being and societal development says Griffith Senior Lecturer in Politics and Public Policy Dr Adrian Kay

“However, global health governance currently stands at a crossroads where contradictory interests, limited political will and weak institutional capacities are confronted by old and new challenges.”

Infectious diseases continue to threaten all sections of the global population, with globalisation ensuring the transmission of disease in both the developing and developed world. Chronic diseases are also a persistent and escalating global health problem.

“The conference will concentrate on the gap between the need for better global health governance and the failure of the international community to make progress towards improving the health of the world’s population,” Dr Kay said.

“The relationship between the increasing number of international organisations with control over matters with obvious health impacts is characterised by competition between contending worldviews of health, instead of collaboration and consistency of purpose.

“Global economic institutions are inducing pressures to liberalise national health systems while simultaneously limiting their control. These pressures compound contradictions in global health governance, and often fragment both national and global responses to health crises.”

Dr Kay said it was clear there was both an emerging global politics and global political economy of health and health governance.

Experts from Australia, the UK, Canada and the US with expertise in public policy, international relations, international political economy, international law, public health, population health, human geography and development studies are attending.

Dr Kay said the mix reflects the increasingly acute and multidimensional nature of the crisis.

“On-going global and national health challenges are no longer the unique problem of biomedical or technical solutions, and the national health system can no longer be regarded as the only scale to think about population health or health policy,” Dr Kay said.

An academic text will be produced, which addresses the question of how the health of the world’s population should be governed in a globalising world.