Adopting a human security perspective, this paper argues that health is essential for development, and that health risks are increasingly globalised. The author divides global health risks into three major categories. 'Traditional' poverty-related diseases, such as malnutrition and diarrhoea, still cause widespread illness and death in developing countries. Women and children are particularly vulnerable to these diseases, many of which can be easily prevented or treated. Non-communicable diseases cause sixty per cent of deaths globally, and are a growing threat in many developing countries. Emergent highly-infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis, and avian flu form the third category. Based on case studies, the author develops a framework for change. She argues that political commitment and leadership are key to securing health. Functioning health systems are needed to translate commitment into action, while civil society participation supports government accountability. Improved commitments and better governance at global level are essential for national-level improvements.