Children playing in a river in Bangladesh

Global health has been defined as “health problems, issues, and concerns that transcend national boundaries, may be influenced by circumstances or experiences in other countries, and are best addressed by cooperative actions and solutions"

United States Institute of Medicine

Despite major improvements in health, there are still large disparities across the globe.  Since 1960, average global life expectancy has increased from 50 to 67 years, but a child born in Swaziland will only live to an average of 32 years, compared to one in Japan which has an average life expectancy of 82 years.  Infectious disease outbreaks such as SARS in China in 2002 and the current Ebola crisis in a number of West African countries also reveal the transnational nature of the biggest health challenges facing physicians.

Global Health is a relatively recent area of scholarship that focuses on the increasing interconnectedness of health and its determinants. Major socioeconomic, environmental and technological changes are producing new challenges, ranging from the global epidemic in obesity through to the emergence and rapid spread of new infectious diseases. These new problems compound existing inequalities in health that are experienced within and between countries. At the same time, we are witnessing major scientific and medical advances that hold the promise of solving many of these problems given the necessary leadership and commitment to ensure equitable implementation.