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  • Global Health 101

    What is “Global Health”?  A brief history of a big idea.

    Global health is a big idea that has a relatively recent history. Having its roots in ‘public health’ and ‘international health’, the evolution of global health involves the continuing development of philosophies, attitudes and practice. It has become a somewhat ‘sexy’ term that has been employed for a variety of uses (and misuses). Here is the most widely accepted definition.

    “Global health is an area for study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide. Global health emphasises transnational health issues, determinants and solutions; involves many disciplines within and beyond the health sciences and promotes inter-disciplinary collaboration; and is a synthesis of population-based prevention with individual-level clinical care.”

    Kaplan et al., Lancet 2009. 

    Global health has justice and human rights as its foundation. It reminds us of the ambitious ‘health for all’ goal articulated at Alma Ata, and the declarations on human rights that include the right to health and the equality of all members of humanity.

    Global health aims to highlight health issues that transcend nation states, their underlying determinants and their solutions. It provides a framework for understanding the health of populations in a global context, one that goes beyond the perspectives and concerns of individual countries.

    Global health is a multidisciplinary arena, extending well beyond the traditional health care professions. Engineers, economists, develop practitioners, researchers, anthropologists, politicians, sociologists, logisticians, and many other professions, have an important role.

    Global health is an exciting and challenging area to study, research and practice within. It is a privilege, and comes with great responsibility.