Introducing global health

Summary of Week 1 of Essentials of Global Health (Coursera – Yale School of Public Health)

Global health considers the health of populations in a global context, placing priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people. This course focuses on the health of poor people in poor countries, issues in public health that transcend national boundaries, and critical public health issues that require global cooperation.

Key perspectives on global health

Determinants of health can be thought of as risk factors and social determinants. A risk factor refers to any attribute, characteristic or exposure of an individual that increases the likelihood of developing a disease or injury while social determinants refer to the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. They can range from individual characteristics to governance, policies and interventions.

Therefore it is important to think broadly. 5 key questions to ask when thinking through a problem to solution are:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Who is affected?
  3. Why do they get it? Risk factors and social determinants.
  4. Why should we care? Health, social and economic consequences.
  5. What can be done?

The global health context and who plays

Many SDGs targets relate directly and indirectly to health. There are a wide range of different kinds of organisations involved in different kinds of activities:

  • Individuals, communities, and governments
  • UN agencies
  • Multilateral and bilateral development organisations
  • International partnerships
  • Foundations
  • National research and health oversight organisations
  • Universities
  • Consulting firms
  • Product development partnerships
  • Pharmaceutical firms
  • Non-governmental organisations
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