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Global Health Editorial 2016

Full article by Ashling Baggaley.

SummaryFull Article

Global Health is often perceived as a domain dealing purely with health issues concerning populations in far flung corners of the globe. Although undeniably important to be aware of, it may be considered less relevant to those of us living in the United Kingdom, for example. This however is a common misconception. Global Health is defined as ‘the health of populations in a global context’; it is highly pertinent to the society in which we live.

On the 8th August 2014 the World Health Organisation declared the Ebola epidemic a ‘public health emergency of international concern.’ For over 18 months the disease took hold, claiming over 10,000 lives worldwide. Fortunately, as of November 2015, Sierra Leone, one of the worst-affected countries, was declared free of Ebola. The successful control comes only as a result of international collaboration to treat and minimise spread of the virus. The epidemic illustrates again the importance of global unification. Although the worst is now behind us, this coalition must continue, as we not only face the after-effects of this outbreak, but aim to prevent the occurrence of others in future.

Global Health is often perceived as a domain dealing purely with health issues concerning populations in far flung corners of the globe. Although undeniably important to be aware of, it may be considered less relevant to those of us living in the United Kingdom, for example. This however is a common misconception. Global Health is defined as ‘the health of populations in a global context’; it is highly pertinent to the society in which we live.
Earlier this year, the UK government highlighted its intentions to implement a charge on emergency healthcare services for non-EU patients. Just recently, the proposal has been amended to include GP services also, such as blood tests and prescriptions. Residence in the UK is an attractive prospect for many reasons, one of which being the promise of free healthcare. Spiralling healthcare costs worldwide have sparked the initiation of ‘health tourism’; travelling abroad for the purpose of medical treatment. In addition, worsening political unrest in certain countries is resulting in a huge influx of people from areas such as the Middle East. The rationale behind implementation of a new governmental scheme is to ensure equal contribution to healthcare services by everyone. The proposal has given rise to some controversy however. The founding principles of the NHS are to be available to all; free at the point of delivery; and based on clinical need not ability to pay. Does the introduction of a demand for payment not negate these core principles? Additionally, it is the duty of every doctor registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) to ‘Never discriminate unfairly against patients.’ Would singling-out non-EU patients prevent doctors from fulfilling their duties? It is clear that as UK citizens, we are not only witnessing but living and solving the consequences of global change.
Let us also consider the emerging epidemic of Antimicrobial resistance. This describes the phenomenon in which microorganisms become insensitive to antimicrobial drugs that were once effective in eradicating them. Consequentially, infections, ranging from the common cold to malaria and HIV, are becoming increasingly difficult to treat. The result is that infections are persisting for longer periods of time, increasing risk of spread, and are more likely to cause disability and death. This presents yet another Global Health issue. Not only does it pose a threat to public health worldwide, but is a problem that can only be solved with unity and cooperation on a global scale.
On the 8th August 2014 the World Health Organisation declared the Ebola epidemic a ‘public health emergency of international concern.’ For over 18 months the disease took hold, claiming over 10,000 lives worldwide. Fortunately, as of November 2015, Sierra Leone, one of the worst-affected countries, was declared free of Ebola. The successful control comes only as a result of international collaboration to treat and minimise spread of the virus. The epidemic illustrates again the importance of global unification. Although the worst is now behind us, this coalition must continue, as we not only face the after-effects of this outbreak, but aim to prevent the occurrence of others in future.
As is overtly evident, having an appreciation for the importance of Global Health does not simply heighten our awareness and comprehension of the rest of the world. Rather it is much further-reaching; essential for understanding the symbiotic relationship between ourselves and international communities, and perceiving the unity of the human race against issues much bigger than ourselves.

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