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What is Global Health?

‘Global Health’ is one of those terms, like culture or ethnicity that no-one really knows how to define.I’m sure to most people, the concept of Global Health conjures up images of doctors working in developing countries, tackling infectious diseases and providing emergency aid. Yet Global Health is not limited to the health issues of people in lower-income countries. In fact it is a discipline that incorporates all countries, irrespective of their income or geography. Put simply, it can be described as ‘an area of study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving health equity for all people worldwide’. 


Just one hundred years ago, most of the worlds population faced similar health issues; there was a high burden of infectious diseases, high death rate and short life expectancy. Recent years have seen significant progress in human health. Thanks to modern medicine, we are living longer and healthier. Yet whilst medical technology has advanced to the point where we can grow artificial organs and even create mitochondrial transfer IVF babies, the world still holds many people dying of preventable diseases. Global Health draws from a large number of academic disciplines to investigate why such vast disparities between and within countries still exist. 


As globalisation continues, the importance of international governance to address global health issues has never been more pertinent. The United Nations, government health authorities, non-governmental organisations, lobbyists and international businesses are only some of the important players in global health governance, highlighting not only its pluralist nature but also the extent of the multidisciplinary approach to talking challenges in global health. But who are these organisations? What do they stand for? How do they come together to develop public health policies? My next post will attempt to answer these questions and explain the complex system that is global health governance! 


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