By - April 04, 2022
Global health is international aid, technologies and interventions flowing from the developed countries to the economically challenged countries of the world. The awareness created by recent pandemics such as H1N1, Ebola and climate change has made the importance of global health very clear. Also, noncommunicable diseases like diet and lifestyle of high-income nations have “communicable” characteristics as developing countries adopt the lifestyle of developed countries.1
The good news is that cross-national comparisons of health systems can yield useful insights. However, as we have seen in the past decade, the health workforce is becoming globalized. The traditional model of health professionals from wealthy nations providing care in the resource-limited nations is transfering vital information to help advance quality of health.
Over the years, achieving growth, development, equity and stability throughout the world has been anchored on global health. Health is now understood as a product of complex and dynamic relations generated by numerous determinants at different levels to make sustaining policies. The impact of social, environmental and behavioral health determinants, including economic constraints, living conditions, demographic changes and unhealthy lifestyles are in many nations of the world.²
Therefore, a more nuanced and contemporary perspective should emphasize interdependence, interconnectedness and recognize the many contributions of both resource-rich and resource-scarce nations.
Fried and colleagues3 described public health as it emerged from mid-19th century in Europe and the U.S. using the medical advances and social reform movements to show four main characteristics:
Global health is a view of health in terms of physical, mental and social wellbeing, rather than merely the absence of disease. It also emphasizes population-level policies, as well as individual approaches to health promotion. Global health also address the root cause of ill health through scientific, social, cultural and economic strategies.⁴
Some health professionals may ask, must a health issue cross national borders to be deemed a global health issue? The answer is no! Global health implies the scope of the issues in transnational, and the health issue itself need not literally cross borders. Global therefore refers to any health issues that concerns many countries or is affected by transnational determinants, such as climate change or urbanization, economic, food or energy crises.
It is also clear that some health issues transcend national boundaries and call for global actions that determine the health of the people. When health issues are undermined or are oblivious to the territorial boundaries of a nation, and are beyond the capacity of individual countries to manage through domestic resources, we could then say, worldwide improvement of health, reduction of disparities, and protection against global threats that disregard national borders should be enforced through global health initiatives.
ASCP has played a vital role in the global health initiatives around the world and the efforts cannot be overemphasized. In 2005, ASCP, through its Center for Global Health, and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), started working in developing countries to identify evidenced-based approaches to prevention and early detection of diseases, to improve laboratory quality and to build skilled laboratory workforce.⁵
In conclusion, many laboratory professionals and stakeholders in all nations both rich and poor may not be aware of the unique importance of global health. The future of the laboratory profession may have a positive turnaround across the globe through the empowerment of developing countries by capacity building and resource management to ensure a sustainable environment to educate, prepare and inspire future laboratory professionals. Medical laboratory schools around the world face many challenges: lack of infrastructure, human resources, information technology and adequate funding. Global health should therefore be in our short- and long-term goals if we want to sustain the skill set and help the future laboratory professionals.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. Public Health Service.
Clinical Chemistry Lead Scientist with the Federal Medical Center in Butner, NC