Chapter

Cultural Heritage as Public Good

Ismail Serageldin

in Global Public Goods

Published in print July 1999 | ISBN: 9780195130522
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199867363 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195130529.003.0012
 Cultural Heritage as Public Good

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While global interest in health surveillance was relatively weak between the 1940s and the 1980s, today there is a renewed interest in international cooperation. There are many good reasons for this heightened interest, including new health risks and better communications. But it is also because in a world of increased mobility – of people and goods – health risks anywhere can pose a threat everywhere. Thus, the knowledge generated through international health surveillance has an important public goods dimension. Because information about existing risks is often of great interest and benefit to all countries, it is increasingly difficult to withhold this information given the strength of civil society and the media. Yet knowledge about disease outbreaks has a peculiar quality. Zacher points to two problems: the reluctance of governments to report disease outbreaks and the lack of capacity in many countries to adequately monitor public health and respond to outbreaks. Zacher suggests that increased involvement by nongovernmental organizations will help remedy at least part of the disclosure problem. “Bad” news travels faster today owing to the spread of the Internet and the growth of international networks of health professionals. Still, the expanded role of NGOs and individuals in disclosure does not take away from the need for an international organization, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) to verify and legitimate outbreak reports and to coordinate international responses to outbreaks. In addition, international development assistance has an important role to play in improving the weak links in global prevention and surveillance systems. National capacities to prevent, report, and control outbreaks can and should be improved in many developing countries in the interest of reducing the common global risk posed by infectious diseases.

Keywords: global public goods; global health; epidemiological surveillance; infectious diseases; health risks; disease outbreak

Chapter.  9726 words. 

Subjects: Public Economics

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