Understanding Global Health, and how it is Reshaping Health Training - A Review

Download Article

Authors : Grace Atieno Jalang’o


Global health though seen by a few authors as a bid by the WHO to reposition itself and survive changing times, is now being grasped as critical to addressing existing and emerging global health threats as a result of globalization. The world is increasingly “shrinking” as migration and trade patterns take a dimension that makes the world seem like a global village. While this has it economic benefits it is creating new threats as communicable infections are transmitted from region to region sometimes in a matter of a day. Health threats in a region can be a global concern at any given time; it is therefore necessary that health personnel are effectively equipped to handle such scenario as and when they occur. It is important that training programs are responsive to the changing health challenges and position themselves to offer health training programs that ensurehealth professionals are adequately prepared to address contemporary health threats.

In a “shrinking world” health threats can end up being major catastrophe without timely intervention. This review delves into the need to ensure that health care professionals are equipped to effectively handle conditions that previously were not akin to their country. Training of health care workers must therefore be responsive to changing global trends with the realization that even in the developed nations, health promotion will only be successful if the health threats and shared risks from less developed nations are adequately addressed. Furthermore health action must be executed with an understanding of intricate cultural practice and other psychosocial economic factors that impact health. In essence it is not so much what Global health is defined as that matters but the realization that globalization is a powerful force that is impacting the health scenario and we must ensure health programs equip health workers by changes that address curricula, exposure to international training, collaborations, funding and relevant programs. These will not only provoke interest in global heath practice but ensure that we are adequately prepared to face the contemporary global health challenges.


[1.] American Medical Student Association 2006, International Health Opportunities Directory. Available at http://www.amsa.org/global/ih/ihopps.cfm Accessed at 8.45pm on 15/7/2013.

[2.] Bacaner, N, Stauffer, B, Boulware, DR, Walker, PF, Keystone, JS 2004, Travel medicine considerations for North American immigrants visiting friends and relatives, JAMA. 2004, 291:2856–2864.

[3.] Bateman, C, Baker, T, Hoornenborg, E & Ericsson, U 2001, Bringing global issues to medical teaching. Lancet, 358:1539–1542.

[4.] Beaglehole, R & Bonita, R, 2010, what is global health? Global Health Action, 3:5142.

[5.] Brown, MT, Cueto, M & Fee, E 2006, Public Health Then and Now, Am J Public Health, 96:62 72.

[6.] Bozorgmehr, K 2010, Rethinking the ‘global’ in global health: a dialectic approach. Global Health, 6:19.

[7.] Drain, PK, Primack, A, Hunt, DD, Fawzi, WW, Holmes, KK & Gardner, P 2007, Global Health in Medical Education: A call for more training and opportunities, Academic Medicine, Vol. 82 No.3.

[8.] Fried, LP, Bentley, ME, Buekens, P, Burke, DS, Frenk, JJ, Klag, MJ &Spencer HC 2010, Global health is public health, Lancet , 375:535–537.

[9.] Gupta, AR, Wells, CK, Horwitz, RI, Bia, FJ & Barry, M 1999, The international health program:the 15-year experience with Yale University’s internal medicine residency program. Am J Trop Med &Hygiene, 61:1019–1023.

[10.]   Institute of Medicine 2003, Microbial Threats to Health: Emergence, Detection, and Response.Washington, DC, The National Academies Press.

[11.]   Kerry, VB, Ndung’u, T, Walensky, RP, Lee, PT, Kayanja, VFIB, et al. (2011) Managing the Demand for Global Health Education, PLoS Med 8(11).

[12.]   Kickbusch, I 2002, Global Health - A definition, Available at http://www.ilonakickbusch.com/global-health/global-health.pdf accessed at 2.45 pm on 13/7/2013.

[13.]   Kickbusch, I & Buse, K 1993, Global influences and global responses: international health at the turn of the twenty-first century. International Public Health: Diseases, Programs, Systems, and Policies, Merson, M, Black, R & Mills, A (eds), Gaithersburg, MA: Aspen Publishers Inc.

[14.]   Wasserheit, JN 2009, Consortium of Universities for Global Health Executive B: Towards a common definition of global health, Lancet, 373(9679),1993-1995.

[15.]   Labonte´, R, Schrecker, T 2007, Globalization and social determinants of health: introduction and methodological background (part 1 of 3). Global Health, 3:5.

[16.]   Mackintosh, M 2001, Do health systems contribute to inequalities? In Poverty, Inequality and Health, Edited by Leon D, Walt G. Oxford: Oxford UniversityPress.

[17.]   Mathers, CD, Iburg, KM, Salomon, JA et al 2004, Global patterns of healthy life expectancy in the year 2002,BMC Public Health, 4:66.

[18.]   Murray, CJL, Kulkarni, S, Ezzat, IM 2005, Eight Americas: new perspectives on U.S. health disparities, Am J Prev Med, 29 (5 suppl 1):4–10.

[19.]   Ramsey, AH, Haq, C, Gjerde, CL & Rothenberg, D 2004 Career influence of an international health experience during medical school,Fam Med,2004;36:412–416.

[20.]   Romanucci-Ross, L, Moerman, DE & Tancredi, LR (eds.) 2004, The Anthropology of Medicine: From Culture to Method. 3rd ed. Westport,Conn: Bergin & Garvey; 1997.

[21.]   Rowson, M, Willott, C, Hughes, R, Maini, A, Martin, S et al 2012,Globalization and Health : theoretical issues and their relevance for teaching, available at http://www.globalizationandhealth.com/content/8/1/36 Accessed at 4.45pm on 14/7/ 2013.

[22.]   Smith, R, Beaglehole, R, Woodward, D & Drager, N (eds) 2001, Global public goods for health: a Health economic and public health perspective, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

[23.]   United Nations 2005,The Millennium Development Goals Report 2005, New York,NY: United Nations.

[24.]   Wilson, CL, Pust, RE 1999, Why teach international health? A view from the more developed part of the world. Educ Health, 12:85–89.

[25.]   World Health Organization 2003, The World Health Report 2003, Geneva, Switzerland, World Health Organization.

[26.]   Yudkin, JS, Bayley, O, Elnour, S, Willott, C & Miranda, JJ 2003, Introducing medical students to global health issues,a bachelor of science degree in International Health. Lancet, 362:822–824.

[27.]   Zuckerman, JN 2002, Travel medicine. BMJ, 325:260–264.