The number and the scale of transboundary public health concerns are increasing. Infectious and non-communicable diseases, international trade in tobacco, alcohol, and other dangerous products as well as the control of the safety of health services, pharmaceuticals, and food are merely a few examples of contemporary transnationalization of health concerns. The rapid development and diffusion of scientific and technological developments across national borders are creating new realms of international health concern, such as aspects of biomedical science, including human reproductive cloning, germ-line therapy, and xenotransplantation, as well as environmental health problems, including climate change, biodiversity loss, and depletion of the ozone layer. Growth in international trade and travel, in combination with population growth, has served to increase the frequency and intensity of health concerns bypassing or spilling over sovereign boundaries.
Although health has traditionally been seen an area of limited multilateral cooperation, there is growing awareness that contemporary globalization has led to the proliferation of cross border determinants of health status and is undermining the capacity of nation states to protect health through domestic action alone.