GHC | What is global health?
GHC blog articles look into what global health really means.
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What is Global Health?

Global Health. Red Hot.

(yeah I said red hot.)


Welcome back all you students of summer.

I thought today might be a good chance to catch you before you run off to university, to be busy and important people. Today is a good day to nut out a difficult question: what is global health to me? Trust me, it took me ages to work it out myself.

For the veterans amongst you, perhaps you already have a working definition. Perhaps it is not unlike this one by Koplan et al, published in your friendly neighbourhood Lancet. It’s a bit wordy but it does a good job of fleshing out and rounding off a solid understanding of what global health means to the experts. In all honesty, I find it a bit jargon-y and reading it is like trying to read government policy, so this is where I’d like you guys to step in: med students of Australia, global health veterans or capital-N-Newbies, what is your take on the term “global health”?

Is it knitting sweaters for penguins?

Is it achieving the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, one Ban Ki-moon at a time?

Is it developing a cure for HIV/AIDS using lateral thinking and a bit of good luck?

Is it thinking critically about your charity donations?

Is it building a gold-gilt throne for Emma Watson after her speech about gender equality?

Image credit to UN Photo/Mark Garten

Now that you’re spending a little time pondering (yes, you may boil the kettle and sit down for a bit), I’d like to throw two cents in from little old Writer here.

Global health is – as the name suggests – global.

I’m not trying to blow any minds here, but I think people sometimes skip this bit. Global health originates from a slow-motion, glorious collision of ‘international health’ and ‘public health’ ( and requires, above all, that we recognise how health is determined globally and needs to be attended to globally.

It means working together.

I don’t know about you up-and-coming hotshot doctors, but I quite frankly find the idea of trying to better the health of the population worldwide daunting. There are so many big, tangled issues rolled under the ‘global health’ umbrella that it requires a generous heaping of cooperation on an international scale.

Global health means advocacy.

One of the dearest and most important things I learnt from attending GHC Sydney 2014 was this: find your passion, and then share it with everyone you can. I think this boils down to finding something to shout about; finding something to become an advocate for. Whether this is buying your groceries from the local farmers’ market rather than Woolies, or taking steps to rally people into helping stop child abuse, being a global health champion means getting in, getting your hands dirty, and taking a stand.

Obviously there is a lot more to this and your humble Writer would like to encourage you to return to this blog in the future to start pulling at those global health threads.

A final few notes before I go – there are some amazing online courses that anyone can take to begin learning about health on the global stage. Here are some quick links:

Oh and here’s a gorgeous Australian institution that gets you straight into da bizniss.

NEJM global health portal have a browse, find your niche, read away. And do the same at The Lancet’s global health portal while you’re at it.

Post your thoughts on what is global health on our Facebook and join the conversation on Twitter.

Want me to say global health one more time?
Global health.

Perth GH(globalhealth)C 2015