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J Rehabil Med. 2009 Sep;41(10):810-22. doi: 10.2340/16501977-0430.

Chapter 3: International non-governmental organizations in the emerging world society: the example of ISPRM.

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Swiss Paraplegic Research (SPF), Nottwil, Switzerland.


Using the International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (ISPRM) as a case in point, the paper describes the complex world societal situation within which non-governmental organizations that address health issues have to operate.This paper describes the complex world societal situation within which non-governmental organizations (NGOs), that are addressing health issues have to operate. In particular, as an international organization in official relation with the World Health Organization (WHO), ISPRM is confronted with a variety of responsibilities and a true world health political mandate. The accompanying rights need to be played out in relation to its own internal member organization and external allies. The theory of the world society and the current situation are briefly reviewed. The role of international NGOs within the world health polity, rehabilitation and Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (PRM) is highlighted, whilst special emphasis is placed on NGOs in official relation with WHO. Functions, dysfunctions and challenges of international NGOs operating in the health sector are discussed. Against this background, key approaches to enhance ISPRM's political role are analysed. These include transparent and accountable development of the organization, the differentiation between internal and external policy relations, the harmonization of organizational structures and procedures, the consequential use of political structures available to influence WHO's agenda, and the identification of other policy players of major relevance to PRM in order to build strategic alliances with external partners and to enhance ISPRM's membership base.

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