Our first campaign: How do YOU define Global Health?

GlobeMed at Whitman just had its first campaign: a professor panel discussion.  The topic of our discussion focused on the definition of global health.  Professors Russo and Pribilsky presented their individual understandings of global health.

Abbey introduced Professor Russo.

Professor Russo primarily discussed the differences between public health, international health, and global health with references to the article “Towards a common definition of global health”.  The article uses Winslow’s definition of public health.

“Public health is the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting physical health and efficacy through organized community efforts for the sanitation of the environment, the control of communicable infections, the education of the individual in personal hygiene, the organization of medical and nursing services for the early diagnosis and preventive treatment of disease, and the development of social machinery which will ensure every individual in the community a standard of living adequate for the maintenance of health; so organizing these benefits in such a fashion as to enable every citizen to realize his birthright and longevity” (Winslow C. cited in Koplan et al).

In contrast, the definition of international health as defined by the Global Health Education Consortium is a subspecialty that “relates more to health practices, policies and systems . . . and stresses more the differences between countries than their commonalities” (Global Health Education Consortium cited in Koplan et al).  The article continues on to explain that the definition of global health overlaps the definitions of public and international health.  The aspects that set global health apart from these two definitions include the ability to “focus on domestic health disparities as well as cross-border issues” as well as incorporating the “training and distribution of the health-care workforce in a manner that goes beyond the capacity-building interest of public health” (Koplan et al).  Additionally, the article articulates that global health “emphasizes the mutuality of real partnership, a pooling of experience and knowledge, and a two-way flow between developed and developing countries” (Koplan et al).  The article concludes with a definition of global health:

“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 emphasizes transnational health issues, determinants, and solutions; involves many disciplines within and beyond the health sciences and promotes interdisciplinary collaboration; and is a synthesis of population based prevention with individual-level clinical care” (Koplan et al).

Professor Pribilsky talking to the audience.

Professor Pribilsky talked primarily on his own experiences and how his understanding of global health has developed.  He began by addressing the negative connotations we associate with the word, development, and how this word was once used to describe progress.  He explained that the term, global health, will probably soon have similar connotations.  This term is fashionable, but we need to look at how we are framing our efforts to save the world.  In addition, he brought up how global health issues seem to cluster around certain topics like tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria, and how this focus in turn excludes important areas like maternal mortality.

Professor Pribilsky specifically explained his work with Ecuadorian immigrants in New York City.  During his work, Ecuadorians had the highest rates of tuberculosis per capita in New York City.  What he found was that these infected individuals had contact with infected people in Ecuador.  The result was a global health effort to educate Ecuadorian immigrants on tuberculosis to reduce the number of active cases in the United States.

He addressed the difference between international health and global health by contrasting unilateral efforts to a bilateral approach.  He explained how international health was founded on Cold War initiatives, where one country would aide one other country.  Global health, however, is collaborative between multiple countries.

Our first campaign!

If you want to learn more about these issues, several books that both professors recommended were :

My Own Country by Abraham Verghese

Publications by Laurie Garrett including: The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance and Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health

Publications by Paul Farmer including: AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame, Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues and Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor

Addtionally the article Professor Russo referred to can be found here:

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(09)60332-9/fulltext

 

Citations:

Koplan, J. P., Bond, T. C., Merson, M. H., Reddy, K. S., Rodriguez, M. H., Sewankambo, N. K., & Wasserheit, J. N. (2009). “Towards a common definition of global health.”  The Lancet. Elsevier Inc., 11 Nov. 2011.  Web. 6 June 2009.

Winslow C. The untilled field of public health.  Mod Med 1920; 2: 183-91.

Global Ehlath Education Consortium.  Global vs international.  http://globalhealthedu.org/Pages/GlobalvsInt.aspx (accessed Feb 19, 2009).

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