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Global Health Defined as Public Health in a New Lancet Commentary by the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH)

WASHINGTONFeb. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Global health and public health are indistinguishable, according to a commentary published by a working group of the Association of Schools of Public Health’s Global Health Committee in the February 13, 2010 issue of Lancet.  “This framework offers realistic recognition of how this critical field has evolved, and its leadership role for the future which is essential to maximizing health for the greatest number of people around the world,” said lead author Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH, dean of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

That framework represents a departure from the one advanced by Jeffrey Koplan and colleagues in Lancet last year, which proposed several distinctions among global health, international health, and public health.

In challenging those distinctions, the just-published commentary observes that global health and public health are different terms for the same goals and concepts, which are rooted in values of equitable opportunity to achieve health and create the knowledge and methods for population-level policies that address the root causes of illness.  It also points out that, with globalization, many health conditions are not confined by a nation’s borders or resource levels, health issues for one nation now affect those in others, and that innovative solutions are most likely to come from collaborative relationships that recognize the interdependence of the world community.

Public health schools are leading the effort to educate a workforce prepared to confront the global burden of disease through integrated, prevention-oriented strategies in both community and health care settings.  “Our schools emphasize the creation of critical knowledge to improve the world’s health, development of evidence-based systems approaches to accomplish this, and multidisciplinary partnerships at all levels of the university, and with public, private and NGO partners,” said Harrison C. Spencer, MD, MPH, president and CEO of the Association of Schools of Public Health.

These partnerships build on the recognition that global health and public health are a single field, a perspective that has profound implications for the training, scholarship, and practice activities necessary to improve human health.

The Lancet authors include the deans and senior faculty of six public health schools – at Columbia UniversityUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillTulane UniversityUniversity of PittsburghHarvard University, and Johns Hopkins University–– and the head of the Association of Schools of Public Health.

See http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/issue/current for their comment.

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Filed under: global health, public health, Urgent

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