Devi Sridhar and Larry Gostin

“The world is in a mess, and much of this mess is of our own making…Collectively, we have failed to give the systems that govern international relations a moral dimension…[However] There is hope. If we have to rethink the way this world works, and overhaul some of our international systems, I personally believe that health deserves careful consideration for a leading role. Our policies are guided by scientific evidence, and not by vested interests. We have the power and the objectivity of the scientific method on our side. The health sector has humanity’s best interests at heart, a strong moral dimension, and a strong set of social values among its many stars. Let us all continue to provide the hope this world so badly needs at a time of severe crises –and transformation.”- Margaret Chan, Address at the 23rd Forum on Global Issues, Berlin, Germany, 18 March 2009.

As Margaret Chan notes above, the world is not in good shape. The triple crises of finance, fuel and food, as well as the looming threat of climate change, have created a “perfect storm” with health bearing the brunt of the fall-out. These challenges juxtapose with the enthusiasm and attention given to global health over the past decade in which unprecedented financial resources have been pledged, new innovative mechanisms have been created, and governments have coalesced around the Millennium Development Goals.