Ilona Kickbusch

"We are in transition from what seemed a relatively reliable state defined and structured world of international health to a diffuse political space of global health in which new forms of distributed power and new patterns of power sharing emerge….even the most cursory analysis of global health governance shows that existing mechanisms of governance and resource flows are insufficient to address the problems at stake and to generate the political will necessary for action."

Global Health Governance

Exploring the expanded responsibility for health within society in relation to politics and power has always been at the core of Ilona Kickbusch´s work and she has pushed the agenda both in her academic work and her work at the WHO. She was one of the first to apply concepts of global governance to the global health arena. This has led to a significant body of work.

A New Governance Space for Health
Ilona Kickbusch has proposed to analyse this space along three dimensions:

  • Global health governance: which refers mainly to those institutions and processes of governance which are related to an explicit health mandate, such as the World Health Organization
  • Global governance for health: which refers mainly to those institutions and processes of global governance which have a direct and indirect health impact, such as the World Trade Organisation – many of these are related to the social determinants of health
  • Governance for global health: this refers to the institutions and mechanisms established at the national and regional level to contribute to global health governance and/or to governance for global health – such as national global health strategies or regional strategies for global health. 

These three dimensions are described in more detail in A New Governance Space for Health with Martina Marianna Cassar Szabo in: Special issue / Supplement of Global Health Action. Editors: Tewabech Bishaw, Thomas Krafft, Ulrich Laaser Associate Editors: Helmut Brand, Christoph Aluttis in: Glob Health Action 2014, 7: 23507

Gridlock in global governance and COVID19
In 2019 together with a group of distinguished authors Ilona Kickbusch explored gridlock, innovation and resilience in global health governance.

The researchers revisited the results of this research one year later in relation to the COVID19 pandemic.

Governing pandemics
Ilona Kickbusch together with Haik Nikogosian explored the potential of a pandemic treaty as the negotiations began at the WHO. This work was published as a collection with the BMJ

She has continued commentary of the developments of the negotiations – for example on

Ilona Kickbusch is also a Member of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board GPMB – which monitors governance of preparedness

Governing digital transformations
Ilona Kickbusch is now exploring the health governance challenges arising from digital transformations,

A key concept that is being explored with partners is Data Solidarity  - another is digital heath citizenship.

Governance Disruptions
In work with on Global Health Governance (with Austin Liu) with a view to the major changes that global health is presently undergoing can be found in the Governance Report 2019 “HealthGovernance” by the Hertie School of Governance, Berlin.

The major disruptors of global health governance are analysed in a special edition of the BMJ edited with Andrew Cassels in 2018.