What Does Global Health Focus on?

Dr. Jennifer Bracey

July 6, 2022

Global Health

The term “global health” has many different meanings and focuses. It encompasses a wide variety of topics, including the definition of global health, the major international agencies involved in the field, and the influence of global health on U.S. policy. For more information on global health and its impact on policy in the United States, continue reading. The definition of global health is discussed in more detail below. But before we discuss its specific meaning, let’s consider the major international agencies involved in it.

Defining global health

Defining global health is difficult, but some authoritative bodies have identified some of the key elements of a valid definition. These elements include equity, global preventive medicine, public health, primary care, social determinants of health, and the interaction of medicine with other supporting disciplines. However, the question of what global health is still a contentious one. Listed below are three of the most common definitions of global health.

Global is a broad term, with several different meanings. While the term has many different meanings, the common meaning of the word stems from a Latin word globus, which means “round mass” or “sphere.” The adjective subsequently became associated with the earth and connectivity. It was not until the 1960s that the term “global village” became popular. A common definition of global health, however, is a fusion of various concepts, and it is a complex and evolving field.

One of the key challenges is measuring the disease burden in low and middle-income countries. There is a lack of reliable statistics for this. The goal is to reduce disease burdens and improve the health of people in the poorest countries. Defining global health requires investments in research and development. The ESSENCE group’s report outlined a mechanism for reviewing investments in health research capacity building in low and middle-income countries. By identifying the gaps, health research capacity-building funding can work together with governments, NGOs, and private companies.

Major international agencies involved in global health

The World Health Organization (WHO) is the directing authority for health within the United Nations system. The WHO was created in 1948 following a United Nations Conference, and its constitution came into effect on April 7 of that same year. The WHO celebrates World Health Day every year on April 7. Environmental factors play a large role in human health, and a staggering 28% of deaths among children under five are related to modifiable environmental factors.

USAID coordinates global health interests abroad through its programs, which have saved millions of lives and helped develop healthy nations and communities. The agency’s health activities are categorized according to strategic priority areas, including preventing child and maternal mortality and controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic. USAID is also involved in combating infectious diseases and strengthening national health systems.

The UN International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is another UN agency that works to improve the health of children around the world. The organization focuses most of its funding on improving the health of children. It implements healthcare projects abroad, including immunization and oral rehydration for newborns who are suffering from diarrhea. Additionally, UNICEF implements programs in HIV/AIDS education and micronutrient supplementation. The organization has numerous career options for people with different backgrounds and educational levels.

Impact of global health on U.S. policy

While America’s national security may be its primary concern, global health also affects the security of the entire world. Economic globalization, the spread of infectious diseases, and the development of drug-resistant microbes are all factors that pose threats to the health of the American people. This entails an increased emphasis on public health and security. The U.S. must be proactive in protecting its citizens against health threats, as well as protecting its national economy and military.

A robust international health policy is an important component of the current administration’s foreign policy. It strengthens the links between U.S. policy and health, creating opportunities for cooperative engagement around the world. By placing health on the agenda of public goods, U.S. foreign policy can help tip the scales in favor of a healthier world. Furthermore, strengthening the connection between health and foreign policy is essential for achieving strategic objectives, and addressing political, economic, and social problems in a way that is not only beneficial for the U.S. but also for its allies and partners.

The United States invests $10.4 billion in health every year, an increase of nearly ninety-six percent since 2006. These investments will help protect and improve the health of the U.S. population. As the leader in global health, the U.S. has many motives for doing so, including the humanitarian obligation to protect the health of people in developing countries, as well as the U.S.’s broad foreign policy mission.