We have recently adopted six global public health pillars to guide our work and focus our passions; Climate Change, Decolonization, Health Systems Strengthening, Non-communicable Diseases, Communicable Diseases, and Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health. These pillars were carefully chosen and incorporated into AGPHI to ensure that our lab’s work reflects the comprehensive, dynamic, and inclusive nature of global public health.
Climate change is one of the most significant global public health issues that our world has ever faced. All regions of the world will be impacted in some way by this crisis. Unfortunately, those who will be affected the most by climate change are those who are the least responsible for it. As global public health professionals, we should: continue to investigate the impact that climate change will have - and has had - on communities and environments; advocate for policies that prioritize already vulnerable populations; and implement data-driven solutions that can mitigate the worst effects of climate change.
Remnants of colonialism and imperialism endure across the world, within the health sector and beyond. Power balances continue to rest in the hands of high-income countries through dominating publications and influential institutions, both of which set the metrics for success within the global health community, to the point of epistemicide and leaving many lower-middle income countries out of the conversation. Decolonization is the effort to fight against these ingrained systems of dominance and power, to improve the health of populations without undermining the ways of knowing and doing in other countries. As new public health professionals, the need to be able to intelligently confront these issues and incorporate them into our global public health work and action is vital to sustainable, unproblematic humanitarianism.
Health Systems Strengthening
Health systems are the core of a nation’s public health infrastructure. Without strong health systems, vulnerable communities and individuals are often forgotten about and left behind. In recent years we have seen unprecedented issues, like the intensification of the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, magnify systemic issues and deepen injustices in communities that have already been historically forgotten. Health systems strengthening acknowledges these systemic inequities and aims to mitigate and eliminate them through resilient, sustainable and resourceful health systems.
Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health
Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health (RMNCH) is an essential part of a strong public health system. There is evidence that public health interventions that strengthen reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health are able to dramatically reduce the burden of disease in many different countries and contexts.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) refer to chronic diseases and conditions that are not passed from person to person. NCDs account for a majority of the global burden of disease and can include cancers, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, COPD, and even mental health. As global public health works in very systematic ways, prevention of these diseases and conditions can have an immense impact on a society as a whole.
Communicable diseases (CDs) are infectious or transmissible diseases that result from an infection or presence of a pathogenic or biologic agent. The global burden of communicable diseases is relatively high, but it is disproportionately distributed among much of the Global South.