Why should we invest in global health?

Global health is defined by the U.S. Institute of Medicine as “health problems, issues, and concerns that transcend national boundaries and may be best addressed by cooperative action…” The tenets of global health highlight public health as a public good, benefiting all members of every society and placing a priority on improving health and achieving equity.

If you think about it, disease knows no boarders. The health of the United States population can be affected by public health threats or events across the globe. The spread of disease can cross international lines within one flight. The health of each of us progressively depends on the health of others.

It shocks me that people do not value global health. There is an ethical dimension to the health and well being of other people. There are so many unnecessary deaths from diseases that are preventable and curable. Is this just? Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “of all forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

Health is closely linked with economic and social development. For example, disease may interfere with school or school attendance. Collectively, poor health can put enormous strain onto an endless cycle of poverty.

The health and well being of people globally can have large implications and linkage on global security and freedom. Disease can be extremely devastating and destabilizing in economies and economic activity. This can put us all at risk.

Finally, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Article 25 states that health, for all people, is a basic human right. The World Health Organization states, “The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being…” This is why we should, and need to, invest in global health.



Information was gathered from University of St. Thomas Global Health class notes, Global Health 101 by Richard Skolnik, and the World Health Organization.


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