Studium an der Medizinischen Fakultät

Global health challenges – implications for science and public health

As globalization increases, interdependence between the physical and social environment reaches higher dynamics and complexity and calls for an integrated ecological and social perspective to understand the determinants for health and well-being at micro/local to macro/global levels.

The global health challenges have become more complex owing to the increased population dynamics that basically affect all ecosystems. Consequently, the demographic and subsequent epidemiological transitions forge unprecedented paths in the different social, ecological, cultural and economic settings. Tackling global health challenges and the changing disease burden from a sustainability view-point can be achieved when reconciled within socio-ecological settings and health systems, such as:

  • People and household-centered approaches to ensure equity and access;
  • Systems thinking that focusses on equitable systems effectiveness including effective governance and financing through decentralization and well-defined partnerships;
  • Continuous monitoring through minimal essential surveillance—response approaches;
  • Human resources management that includes training and continuing education, and
  • Accompanying, relevant research and development activities.

Using the examples of emerging and re-emerging diseases as well as health systems analyses, these key determinants will be illustrated and discussed based on recent case studies. It concludes with the perspective that sustainability will only be achieved if we: (i) consider the inextricable linkages between ecosystems, society and health, particularly the health of animals and humans; (ii) understand that contemporary complex global health problems cannot be solved by “reductionist” approaches; and (iii) finally, this requires ecological, health, social and political systems thinking and taking action. The way forward lies in the combination of ecosystem and public health approaches, in the spirit of global health and Sustainable Development Goals which, in turn, entails scientific approaches to a coherent hypothesis-driven sharing and comparing across systems and cultures.

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