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What is Global Health?

close up of a globe

Global health is the study and practice of population-level health interventions in communities around the globe, including the U.S.

Global health is not another way of saying international health, since it is inclusive of all countries, developed and underdeveloped, high-, middle-, and low-income. Global health issues are shared across borders, boundaries, and socio-economic status, and solutions can often be translated from one community to another.

"Health issues that we have in common in the world. Health issues which transcend national boundaries that can be addressed by common actions.  In other words, health issues which are important both domestically and internationally."

Dean Pierre Buekens, MD, MPH, PhD

Who does Global Health impact?

Global health affects all of us. Global health interventions have the potential to ultimately help communities everywhere – in Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America, and anywhere people desire to be healthy.

The shift, from studies that divide domestic and international health to those that view health on one plane, reflects the way our world is shrinking and becoming more interconnected. Chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes are not limited to high-income countries. Infectious diseases, like dengue, malaria, or Zika, can spread quite easily across natural and man-made boundaries. Diseases like HIV and tuberculosis are certainly not limited to particular continents or countries. 

How does Global Health inform my degree?

The school, already a leader in global health research and academics, has made a concerted effort to fully incorporate global health throughout its degrees and courses. SPHTM students study how industrialization has brought first world problems to third world countries; how obesity is an urgent problem for American children but also a growing problem for Chinese children; how health systems impact communities, cities, and countries. Our faculty don't just demonstrate a U.S. approach to a problem; approaches from around the world are reviewed and analyzed so that worldwide best practices can be studied and developed.

Graduates may ultimately enjoy careers that take them to far-flung countries around the globe, or they may spend their public health career exclusively in the U.S. Regardless of their location, however, their work will be impacted by and will be a part of the greater canon of global health. Global health is all of us, working together, toward the common goal of good physical and mental health and wellbeing.