Do the words ‘global’ and ‘health’ fit together meaningfully? After COVID-19, a pandemic now announced as essentially over by lockdown zealots such as Jacinda Ardern and Joe Biden (and with even the World Health Organisation saying the “end is in sight”), it is timely to review this aspect of globalisation. On the one hand, it seems obvious that a contagious disease in one country could easily be spread around the world, justifying a concern with health at global level. On the other hand, most people do not go around worrying about, say, the prevalence of diabetes mellitus on a distant continent. They do not lose sleep over something as abstract or nebulous as global health, any more than global happiness or global diet.
The concept of global health needs scrutiny, because as suspected with COVID-19, underlying motives (such as digital identity systems) may be driving its promotion. Despite good intentions, it is now a battering ram in the battle to move the planet towards all manner of initiatives which have less to do with health and more to do with politics. And those politics are ostensibly in pursuance of progressive ideology. In this article we aim to demonstrate the true nature of global health with reference to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Global Health Now, the organ of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Lancet.
What is global health?
Global health is neither readily definable nor is it clear when the term was first used. Back in the 1950s, some epidemiologists referred to global health but more commonly used the term ‘international health’. The latter remains in use, but while there was a fivefold increase in its frequency of use in academic journals, there was an increase of over 700 times in the use of ‘global health’ by the new millennium.
One study of people in the field of international health showed that “about half felt that there was no need for a new terminology and that the label ‘global health’ was meaningless jargon”. Others who were in favour of the new term “seemed unable clearly to articulate or define it”. The current definition provided in Wikipedia and taken from a 2009 article in the Lancet is “the area of study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide”. That may seem philanthropic, but let’s see how that’s going.