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Guest Opinion: Gordon Brown

March - April, 2009 | Volume 8, Issue 2

Photo: Headshot of Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown

Today, the pace of medical advances and our understanding of illness and disease are greater than ever before, but the challenge for governments and societies across the world is to make these benefits available to all.

This strategy is one way for us…to help to build a better fairer world. But global health is a question not just of morality but of security as well. In today's new global era, flows of commerce, information and ideas transcend traditional borders, but so too do climate change and pandemics like influenza. And in a world where the old distinction between 'over here' and 'over there' is becoming increasingly redundant, and where our neighbors are closer than ever before, new opportunities also present us with new challenges and risks.

The first duty of any government must be to ensure the safety of its people, but this can no longer be achieved in isolation. Increasingly it is in our interest not only to uphold the values that underpin our policies at home—liberty, security and justice for all, economic opportunity and environmental protection shared by all—but to promote them actively abroad, and nowhere is this more important than in the field of global health.

Quite simply, healthy populations mean a more secure and economically productive world.

Global health is a force for good, whether in tackling the effects of climate change, reducing the threat from epidemics or pandemic diseases, or increasing access to medicines and innovation.

We know that international co-operation will be essential in helping to achieve these goals, and we should not underestimate the scale of the challenges ahead…By harnessing the activities and energies of the many partner governments, agencies and organizations who share our goals I believe that we can make a real difference. In our interdependent world the health of all peoples is everyone's priority—and good health for all must be our shared ambition.

Gordon Brown is prime minister of the United Kingdom. (From Health is Global: A UK Government Strategy 2008–13.)

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