The term “Global Health” once was synonymous with “international health.” Used in the context of bilateral relationships between donor and recipient nations, the term described activities aimed at addressing infectious diseases, maternal and child health, primary health care, and other public health issues in developing countries.
Over time, however, the meaning of the term has evolved—xan outcome of globalization and the unprecedented speed of cross-border infection in the 21st century.
Against the backdrop of growing awareness of common global threats to the health of their citizens, governments began to acknowledge the need to work together to devise effective countermeasures.
Global health still includes the initial notion of international health, but its mission has expanded to include everyone—to reduce health disparities and protect the world against threats that have little respect for national borders, or for whether a country is rich or poor. It now encompasses the battle against emerging challenges, such as SARS and recent influenza epidemics.
Since the year 2000 or so, the global health community has increasingly focused on three of the deadliest threats to human health—HIV, tuberculosis and malaria—priorities enshrined in the language of the UN Millennium Goals, which include a commitment to reduce the number of deaths caused by the diseases known as the Big 3.
Today the number of critical priorities for global health continues to expand. A lack of universal health coverage in many nations, and the impact of climate change, mental illness, non-communicable diseases and other threats on human health are increasingly viewed as significant public health risks. Addressing such challenges continues to offer new opportunities for broadening the sense of what we mean by the term global health.