Health Care Analysis

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 352–375 | Cite as

In Search of Global Health Justice: A Need to Reinvigorate Institutions and Make International Law

  • Shawn H. E. Harmon
Original Article


The recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has killed thousands of people, including healthcare workers. African responses have been varied and largely ineffective. The WHO and the international community’s belated responses have yet to quell the epidemic. The crisis is characteristic of a failure to properly comply with the International Health Regulations 2005. More generally, it stems from a failure of international health justice as articulated by a range of legal institutions and instruments, and it should prompt us to question the state and direction of approaches to the governance of global public health. This paper queries what might be done to lift global public health as a policy arena to the place of prominence that it deserves. It argues that there are at least two critical reasons for the past, present and easily anticipated future failings of the global public health regime. After exploring those, it then articulates a new way forward, identifying three courses of action that might be adopted in realising better health outcomes and global health justice, namely value, institutional and legal reform.


Epidemics Law Global public health Global health justice Solidarity Equity World Health Organization 


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of LawUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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