What is Global Health?

The concept of Global Health emerged alongside the rise of ‘globalisation’ in the early 2000s. It incorporates concepts including the cultural, demographic, environmental, and socioeconomic determinants of health. Global Health could be defined as ‘… an area for study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide.’ (Koplan et al 2009). Global Health is:

  • Global - it looks at health at a national and international scale, and is not confined by geographic boundaries
  • Equity-focused - it recognises there are great inequalities and injustices in health, and that addressing the drivers of social disadvantage must be a part of the solution to health problems
  • Interdisciplinary - it is concerned with health and its intersections with other sectors and disciplines such as sociology, economics, politics, engineering and education.

Global Health investigates the interconnections between various countries, sectors and disciplines, by contrast, the older phrase ‘international health’ referred primarily to infectious disease in developing countries.