Defining Health Diplomacy: Changing Demands in the Era of Globalization

Authors


Sarah Kornblet, Stimson Global Health Security Program, 12th Floor, 1111 19th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036 (email: skornblet@stimson.org).

Abstract

Context: Accelerated globalization has produced obvious changes in diplomatic purposes and practices. Health issues have become increasingly preeminent in the evolving global diplomacy agenda. More leaders in academia and policy are thinking about how to structure and utilize diplomacy in pursuit of global health goals.

Methods: In this article, we describe the context, practice, and components of global health diplomacy, as applied operationally. We examine the foundations of various approaches to global health diplomacy, along with their implications for the policies shaping the international public health and foreign policy environments. Based on these observations, we propose a taxonomy for the subdiscipline.

Findings: Expanding demands on global health diplomacy require a delicate combination of technical expertise, legal knowledge, and diplomatic skills that have not been systematically cultivated among either foreign service or global health professionals. Nonetheless, high expectations that global health initiatives will achieve development and diplomatic goals beyond the immediate technical objectives may be thwarted by this gap.

Conclusions: The deepening links between health and foreign policy require both the diplomatic and global health communities to reexamine the skills, comprehension, and resources necessary to achieve their mutual objectives.

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