In an ever-modernizing world where the economies, politics and social constructs of different countries are becoming increasingly intertwined, the field of healthcare must also adapt its perspective to incorporate and all aspects of all the patients that make up our planet. Global health is an outlook that views health in both an interdisciplinary and international context, involving research and medical care that emphasizes the importance of wellness, health and healthcare equity around the world. It tackles all the common and unique factors influencing health across different cultures, involving diverse fields such as economics, politics, public policy, environmental studies, sociology, epidemiology and human rights.
Global health literacy, or a basic understanding of global health terms, factors and how to apply them in various fields, is a crucial skill for people of any profession. Since health is influenced by all the demographics and features of an individual, it is important that everyone develop a working knowledge of this concept and how it applies to their field.
While global health allows one to appreciate the uniqueness of different cultural landscapes, it is also crucial to adopt this viewpoint to combat dangerous global. As globalization and modernization continue, key issues in healthcare around the world emerge. Climate change, partially brought about by careless decisions made by consumers in “First World” countries, affects health in all countries, primarily through changes in water sources, sanitation and weather patterns . Last year brought many environmental crises that can be directly linked to climate change, from devastating floods in Bangladesh to a drought in East Africa to deadly heatwaves in Europe and China to hurricanes within the United States. These catastrophic events demand immense resources from local groups and allow diseases to spread more easily. According to Dr. Calum Macpherson, vice provost for international program development at Saint George’s University, the issue of climate change “is thought by many global health experts to be the greatest threat to human health.”
In addition to climate change, various political factors can lead to wars and create large refugee communities who must adapt to a new culture. These groups are often underrepresented in healthcare policy. While refugees are normally healthy, the disruption to their normal way of life, stress of adapting to a new country and poor living conditions can cause them to fall ill and also be more prone to mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Due to legal issues, many immigrants do not receive adequate healthcare (if at all) and are vastly underrepresented in healthcare policy, even though an estimated 25.4 million people worldwide have been forced to emigrate to new countries for their protection, according to the World Health Organization. Protecting the health of these refugees is in the best interest of residents of host countries and the world over.
Modern global health crises extend far beyond just climate change and refugee health, demanding advocacy and action to combat issues such as potential pandemics, the rise in noncommunicable diseases, agricultural practices and class disparities. It is easy to become overwhelmed when considering all these issues, but it is crucial to understand that change relies on the passionate collaboration of many individuals, working together with diverse experiences to solve common problems. Above all, it is vital that all citizens, including college students who are growing into their respective professions, educate themselves about these topics. UConn’s second global health symposium, “Winning the Birth Lottery: Globalization and Health,” will be taking place on March 29 and 30 and will delve into the geopolitical, economical and social aspects of one’s birthplace and its influence on health. It will feature keynote speakers, breakout sessions, a documentary, a refugee panel and a simulation of the birth lottery to encompass all methods of learning and expose both novices and experts in global health to current issues around the world. Attendees can pre-register for the event or join at any time in the symposium to learn more about these vital issues. We are all players in the global health landscape and can advocate in our various fields to create positive change for all cultures.
Kate Lee is a contributor to The Daily Campus opinion section. He can be reached via email at Katherine.firstname.lastname@example.org .