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Why Global Health Matters

What is global health?

Global health is concerned with the health challenges faced by our planet’s population in its entirety, rather than those of individual nations. The field represents a continuously evolving multidisciplinary approach to understanding emerging global health challenges, examining how social, cultural, economic and environmental factors contribute to health inequities in populations. While global health has many facets, Koplan et al (2009) put it simply by defining it as ‘area for study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving health equity for all people worldwide’.

The preventable impact of health inequity

Everyone deserves an equal opportunity for health, free of the disparities many vulnerable communities and populations are currently facing. Reducing the burden of disease and achieving health equity requires deliberate actions to reach vulnerable populations with prevention and care programs, while simultaneously working to address the social determinants of health.

In addition to the potential for profound negative impact on personal well-being, the knock-on effects of healthcare inequity are staggering. For example, it was estimated by the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery in 2015 that without urgent and accelerated investment in surgical scale-up, the economic cost of the lack of accessible, affordable surgery in LMICs will lead to a cumulative loss of $12-3 trillion between 2015 and 2030. In practical terms, attention to global health issues can result in saving millions of lives, in reducing health disparities, in securing protection against global health threats and, beyond the realm of health, in promoting productivity and economic growth.

Global health issues are concerned with scale, not national boundaries

As much as the various disciplines of global health interlink and overlap, so too do our communities and the way we are impacted by these factors. No one country exists in isolation, and health issues more often than not transcend national boundaries and have the potential to impact the world’s economies and political climates. We need look no further than the recent emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic for a compelling example of how we are all interconnected.

Advocacy and collaboration empowering change

In addition to SDGHI’s commitment to foster strategic partnerships in support of research, policy changes, health system strengthening and clinical support to address global health challenges in the region, we aim to offer resources that empower our global community to educate, advocate for the importance of, and contribute to the advancement of global health. This includes educational and collaborative opportunities, a growing platform for knowledge transfer, experiential perspectives from within the field of global health, and avenues of inspiration for researchers, policy-makers, medical professionals and the general public alike. You will find some of these resources available on our website and housed in our Knowledge Centre.