The Quest for Global Justice in Health: A Review of Global Health Law by Lawrence O. Gostin

Octavio Gomez-Dants; Julio Frenk
Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics. Vol. 15: Iss. 2, Article 4.
Published online: October 2015

Abstract / Resumen:
We are witnessing the emergence of a new world health order. Health occupies an increasingly relevant place in the global agenda. An unprecedented health transition is leading to a new model characterized by expanded international and national funding for health and the involvement of a growing pluralism of actors. During the twentieth century, the life expectancy of the world population increased more than it had in all previous centuries combined. In 1900, global life expectancy averaged just over a mere thirty years. By 1990, it had more than doubled to sixty-four years, and now may surpass seventy years. Of course, there are huge disparities among countries: life expectancy at birth in Japan is
eighty-three years, while in Sierra Leone it is forty-five. We have also seen a major shift in the dominant patterns of disease. Chronic non-communicable disorders (NCDs) in adults have replaced acute infections in children as a relatively dominant cause of death globally. The increasing importance of chronic diseases explains another salient characteristic of the
health transition: the rising role of disability in the global health profile. “Health problems,” according to a recent Global Burden of Disease Report, “are increasingly defined not by what kills us, but what ails us. ” The prominence of health in the global agenda has changed as well. Health issues have moved from the realm of “low politics,” commonly associated with development concerns, to that of “high politics,” usually associated with national and global security issues.”5 Health issues increasingly contribute to economic growth and development, national and global security, and human rights promotion […] Given this complex context, it is critically important to use novel perspectives when discussing the nature and scope of global health. This is exactly what Lawrence O. Gostin achieves in his recent book, Global Health Law. This outstanding volume views global health through the lens of international law. However, its vast breadth and innovative approach allow it to transcend a strictly legal framework. It appeals not only to legal and public health specialists, but also to “the informed public that cares about global health with justice.”‘ The book’s launching is particularly timely since negotiations around the post-2015 Development Agenda are reaching their final stage. These negotiations intend to define a new development framework that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals…

Keywords / Palabras clave:
Global Health, Health Legislation, Millennium Development Goals, Health Systems

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