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Global Health History and Evolution

The first stage of global health is tropical medicine, which occurred in the 16th century when Europeans explored the world and discovered new lands (Palilonis, 2020). As people were settling, they discovered various diseases and, along with indigenous tribes, suffered from infections and epidemics.

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The next stage is military medicine which was practiced among many colonies. The military had to organize medical care facilities for colonizers where they could get medical help. They also could conduct research and study diseases (Palilonis, 2020). With more people coming to colonies, religious institutions became responsible for providing the population with medical services.

Modern global health is a scientific field with a massive amount of medical information and research studies on different diseases and illnesses around the world.

Modern global health is aimed at the prevention of the disease rather than treatment. Prevention science focuses on the development of evidence-based strategies and aims to reduce risk factors for vulnerable populations (National Prevention Science Coalition, 2019). In addition, one of the goals of prevention science is to “enhance protective factors to improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities” (National Prevention Science Coalition, 2019). Prevention science within global health is multifaceted and concerns the medical field and the governmental, institutional, and community guidelines and policies. The National Prevention Science Coalition (2019) states that prevention science helped generate practices and policies that affected numerous communities across the globe and helped to avoid adverse health and social outcomes.

Numerous factors affect the health of individuals, communities, and society as a whole. Social determinants of health include the environment, genes, social field, physical state, and behavior (Adams et al., 2019). These factors determine the health status of an individual and the population within which they reside. Thus, many disorders are genetic in origin, and one’s genetic material can determine the likelihood of developing a certain disease, quality of life, and lifespan (World Health Organization, 2021). For example, Down syndrome is a genetic condition and can affect one’s quality of life and overall health and well-being. Environmental and physical factors such as clean water and air, safe workspaces and housing, urbanization, and access to resources can also affect one’s health. Lack of access to clean water, air, and high-quality foods, in particular, can lead to the development of several disorders. In addition, social support networks from families, friends, and broader communities are linked to better health (World Health Organization, 2021). Finally, one’s behavior and choices to engage in or avoid certain activities can determine their health. For example, such habits as smoking and drinking can substantially affect one’s health.

Work within the field of global health can be project-based or can be aimed at development and relief. Most of the activities in global health are project-based, requiring healthcare professionals and managers to address a specific problem and help eradicate it or reduce its impact on the global population. Thus, smallpox eradication and tackling global influenza can be viewed as projects in global health. Global influenza has its roots in the Spanish flu, an immense problem in 1918 and caused thousands of deaths. Global health has participated in managing the project of study influenza and creating vaccines to prevent the population from getting infected and stop the spread of the disease. Meanwhile, smallpox eradication was one of the most significant accomplishments of global health that led to the development of a program that could help manage the problem. Smallpox has touched millions of people and, in some cases, led to the fatal outcome. Therefore, it was a significant achievement that saved many people’s lives with the assistance of the World Health Organization.

Development interventions aim to deal with health problems that were either not previously managed before or lack the set protocol for addressing and treatment. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic is the latest example of the global health interventions that modern society has experienced. As the issue is new, global governments and healthcare organizations were forced to develop protocols for treating the patients with the condition and guidelines for preventing further spread. In addition, within the development intervention, several vaccines were created to tackle COVID-19.

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Relief interventions in global health aim to alleviate a critical health problem in a community and prevent it from spreading further. An example of an epidemic that global health had to deal with in recent years is SARS that affected some parts of Hong Kong and was about to spread globally. SARS was addressed quickly, stopping it from spreading; therefore, the intervention relieved the population of Hong Kong from the pandemic. Similarly, the problem of HIV/AIDS in African countries is currently being addressed by several organizations, including UNAIDS, in order to relieve the situation (Better World Campaign, 2021). This relief intervention aims to achieve epidemic control, increase global burden-sharing and provide opportunities to all affected communities.


Adams, V., Behague, D., Caduff, C., Löwy, I., & Ortega, F. (2019). Re-imagining global health through social medicine. Global Public Health, 14(10), 1383-1400. Web.

Better World Campaign. (2021). Global health. Web.

Chen, X., Li, H., LuceroPrisono, D.E. et al. (2020). What is global health? Key concepts and clarification of misperceptions. Global Health Research and Policy. 5(14). Web.

Hay, A. J., & McCauley, J. W. (2018). The WHO global influenza surveillance and response system: A future perspective. Influenza and other respiratory viruses, 12(5), 551-557. Web.

National Prevention Science Coalition. (2019). What is prevention science? Web.

Palilonis, M. A. (2020). An Introduction to Global Health and Global Health Ethics: A Brief History of Global Health. Web.

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World Health Organization. (2021). Determinants of health. Web.

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