HealthcarePapers

HealthcarePapers 19(4) April 2021 : 9-18.doi:10.12927/hcpap.2021.26487
Invited Paper

Why Global Cooperation in Public Health Needs a Leader*

Jillian Clare Kohler

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored deficits in global cooperation in public health and exacerbated trends of protectionism, nationalism and xenophobia, presenting clear dangers to the hope of global solidarity in public health. Global cooperation is critical to making gains against the coronavirus; defection will create losses. The World Health Organization (WHO), arguably the international organization best placed to coordinate global cooperation, has lost traction as a global health leader. Even though the WHO has undertaken a number of laudable initiatives during this pandemic, it has also shown its limitations. The urgent need for global cooperation in public health is discussed in relation to the race to discover a COVID-19 vaccine and the complexity of deploying vaccines equitably. Given the need for leadership here, Canada is well positioned to fill in the political vacuum and assume a critical role as an advocate for global cooperation in public health.

 

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