Posted: March 24th, 2023

Global Health Networks, Policy and Governance


Global health networks have increased over the past century, but attempts to address health challenges remain ineffective. The systems entail interconnections of people and organizations, which are linked by common interests and concerns to deal with conditions affecting or potentially affecting global populations. Such parties attempt to create policy and governance procedures to address significant problems affecting individuals’ health. The challenges affect a considerable part of the world’s population. Formal institutions govern global health initiatives, which target low and middle-income nations. Roll Back Malaria, and The Global Polio Eradication Initiative are some of the common systems implemented at the global level to address specific health challenges (Shiffman 2017). Although global health networks have existed for decades to address health challenges, they remain primarily ineffective due to problem definition, positioning, coalition building, and governance issues.

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Challenges Affecting Global Health Networks

Problem Definition and Positioning

Global health networks, such as Roll Back Malaria and The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, face a significant challenge in their implementation. The first two causes of the challenge include problem definition and positioning. The challenges relate to the framing procedure, which encompasses the meaning-construction process. The stage makes it possible for people to understand the problem that requires a solution (Figuié 2014; Shiffman et al. 2016). Without proper meaning, the problem-framing process becomes challenging, affecting the ability of the initiative to achieve the set objectives, which help global populations to overcome health issues.

Problem definition and positioning relate to issues internal to the global health network. They are associated with how members understand the problem, such as malaria in the case of Roll Back Malaria (Shiffman 2017). Any limitations in understanding the issue, such as lack of knowledge regarding its extent, leads to challenges in allocating resources towards its eradication. Therefore, members should conceptualize problems and their solutions and position them effectively to use available resources efficiently.


Coalition building is an essential pre-condition for effectively working global health networks, such as Roll Back Malaria. However, the initiative remains mostly ineffective because of the lack of effectiveness in coalition building. Hence, it should recruit allies to support and fund the programs created by the network to address the target health challenge (Shiffman 2017). The current efforts have failed to achieve their objectives because of the inefficiency in building effective coalitions. The pre-condition should be met to enhance effectiveness in achieving the initiative goals.

The coalition also requires governmental and policy support to achieve the anticipated success. However, some of the initiatives, such as Roll Back Malaria, lack adequate support from the government in the target countries, which explains their failure (Hemingway et al. 2016). Failure to collaborate effectively has resulted in the persistence of the health challenges, such as malaria, regardless of the existence of the initiative since 1998. The action has failed to end the malaria epidemic in the low- and medium-income countries because of the lack of effective coalition.

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Governance is the most crucial factor for the effective implementation of initiatives, such as Roll Back Malaria and related programs. Governance is associated with creating institutions that facilitate collective action related to the initiative. Although network governance is critical in creating and implementing such policies and initiatives, it is not always effective (Shiffman 2017). As a result, members of the global health network fail to interact effectively to achieve crucial goals, such as eradicating malaria. Therefore, failure in governance creates challenges in the realization of the objective.

Governance plays a vital role in providing critical leadership for the operation of the global health network, such as Roll Back Malaria. The aspect of governance offers the vision for the initiative to operate and achieve its mandate to the global population. Thus, limitations in this area create issues, such as failure to coordinate major decisions (Schmitz 2016). Given the comprehensive nature of the networks, lack of coordination leads to fragmented choices that are hard to implement and adopt (Tosun 2018). Although global governance is necessary in implementing health network initiatives, the initiative is limited and may encounter challenges when addressing health problems affecting the world population.

Implications on Global Health

The global health networks are created to coordinate efforts to address specific health problems around the world. The implementers identify serious health problems, such as malaria, and create the systems to provide comprehensive solutions. Such initiatives’ success could be essential in saving masses from the detrimental effects of the target health problems, such as malaria (Shiffman, Quissell & Schmitz 2016). While attempts by a network, such as Roll Back Malaria, have played a key role in solving the problem, malaria remains a serious health challenge in the low- and middle-income countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The challenge, created by problem definition, positioning, coalition building, and governance issues, has severe implications on global health. The challenge means that the network has failed to address malaria effectively and that many people, especially children and pregnant mothers, continue to die because of the disease (Shawar & Shiffman 2017). In a press release in 2003, five years after the launch of Roll Back Malaria, it was revealed that the disease was still prevalent and killed more than 3000 children in Africa (Smith, Jalloh & Chinyama 2003). Hence, such information shows that the initiative remains mostly ineffective because of the underlying problems related to the definition, positioning, coalition building, and governance.

Furthermore, when an initiative fails, such as Roll Back Malaria, it means that the global health network will continue to invest finances and efforts to address the health challenge in the target countries. Hence, the world continues to spend resources to solve the problem of malaria (Shiffman 2016). Besides the financial cost, affected states continue to experience negative impact because the death toll remains considerably high. Therefore, the Roll Back Malaria initiative has severe implications for global health.


Global health networks, such as Roll Back Malaria, play an essential role in addressing specific health problems affecting populations around the world. However, their success is based on several factors, such as adequate problem definition and positioning, coalition building, and governance. From the analysis, it is evident that the initiative has not been effective because it has failed to achieve its objective of eradicating malaria. The considerably high death toll and disease burden of malaria require effective governance. Leaders should reflect on the areas where it has failed and implement effective solutions to improve it. Besides, they should research programs that have been successful in enhancing leadership and governance. Overall, the management should return to the drawing board and address the governance challenges to improve the initiative’s efficiency and effectiveness.



Figuié, M 2014, ‘Towards a global governance of risks: international health organisations and the surveillance of emerging infectious diseases’, Journal of Risk Research, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 469-483.

Hemingway J, Ranson H, Magill A, Kolaczinski J, Fornadel C, Gimnig J, Coetzee M, Simard F, Roch DK, Hinzoumbe, CK, & Pickett, J 2016, ‘Averting a malaria disaster: will insecticide resistance derail malaria control?’, The Lancet, vol. 387, no. 10029, pp.1785-1788.

Schmitz, HP 2016, ‘The global health network on alcohol control: successes and limits of evidence-based advocacy’, Health Policy Plan. Vol. 31, suppl 1, pp. 87–97.

Shawar, YR & Shiffman, J 2017, ‘Generation of global political priority for early childhood development: the challenges of framing and governance.’, Lancet. Vol. 389, pp. 119–124.

Shiffman, J 2016, ‘Networks and global health governance: introductory editorial for health policy and planning supplement on the emergence and effectiveness of global health networks’, Health Policy Plan, vol. 31, suppl 1, pp. i1-i2.

Shiffman, J 2017, ‘Four challenges that global health networks face,’ Int J Health Policy Manag vol., no. 4, pp. 183–189.

Shiffman J, Quissell K, & Schmitz, HP 2016, ‘A framework on the emergence and effectiveness of global health networks’, Health Policy Plan, vol. 31, suppl 1, pp. 3–16.

Shiffman J, Schmitz HP, Berlan D, Smith SL, Quissell K, Gneiting U, & Pelletier D 2016, ‘The emergence and effectiveness of global health networks: findings and future research’, Health Policy Plan, vol. 31, suppl 1, pp. i110-i123.

Smith P, Jalloh M, & Chinyama V, 2003, ‘Malaria is alive, well & killing more than 3000 children a day in Africa,’ Press Release. WHO and UNICEF.

Tosun, J 2018, ‘Polycentrism in global health governance scholarship: comment on”four challenges that global health networks face”, International Journal of Health Policy and Management, vol. 7, no, 1, pp. 78-84.


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