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Public Health. 2014 Feb;128(2):141-7. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2013.08.008. Epub 2014 Jan 1.

The World Health Organization and Global Health Governance: post-1990.

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Centre on Global Health Security, Chatham House, 10 St James's Square, London SW1Y 4LE, United Kingdom. Electronic address:


This article takes a historical perspective on the changing position of WHO in the global health architecture over the past two decades. From the early 1990s a number of weaknesses within the structure and governance of the World Health Organization were becoming apparent, as a rapidly changing post Cold War world placed more complex demands on the international organizations generally, but significantly so in the field of global health. Towards the end of that decade and during the first half of the next, WHO revitalized and played a crucial role in setting global health priorities. However, over the past decade, the organization has to some extent been bypassed for funding, and it lost some of its authority and its ability to set a global health agenda. The reasons for this decline are complex and multifaceted. Some of the main factors include WHO's inability to reform its core structure, the growing influence of non-governmental actors, a lack of coherence in the positions, priorities and funding decisions between the health ministries and the ministries overseeing development assistance in several donor member states, and the lack of strong leadership of the organization.


Global Health Governance; History of global health; The World Health Organization

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