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The World Health Organization between North and South$
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Nitsan Chorev

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450655

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450655.001.0001

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Health in Economic Terms

Health in Economic Terms

(p.160) 6 Health in Economic Terms
The World Health Organization between North and South

Nitsan Chorev

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines how the World Health Organization (WHO), under the leadership of Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland, strategically adapted to the “new policy environment” that was created by the neoliberal reforms in the health sector. In the late 1990s, the WHO underwent programmatic and organizational changes in an attempt to pacify the exogenous forces and to strategically adapt to the logic of neoliberalism. The central component of the WHO leadership's strategic adaptation to the new environment was the replacement of a social logic with economic logic as the foundation for the organization's decisions and policies. This chapter shows how WHO officials justified investment in health by emphasizing the importance of health for economic development rather than as a fundamental part of a nation's social development, while also adopting cost-effective calculations to introduce the concept of the “new universalism,” which rejected primary health care and rigid market-oriented approaches while maintaining the WHO's “central task” of alleviating poverty by improving health.

Keywords:   primary health care, World Health Organization, Gro Harlem Brundtland, neoliberal reforms, neoliberalism, strategic adaptation, economic development, social development, new universalism, poverty

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