Global Health Actors Must Align Efforts, Understand Priorities To Address Health Challenges

New England Journal of Medicine: The Blind Men and the Elephant — Aligning Efforts in Global Health
Ranu S. Dhillon, faculty member in the Division of Global Health Equity, and Abraar Karan, internal medicine resident, both at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School

“…Debates over which health issues to prioritize mask fundamentally different perspectives on why global health efforts should be pursued in the first place. … These perspectives animate different sets of actors with different areas of focus. The security perspective maintains that it is in their own interest for high-income countries to support global health in order to safeguard their citizens and economies from disease threats. … The development perspective posits that global health is essential for ensuring a productive workforce, social solidarity, and protection against impoverishing medical costs. … The human rights perspective contends that health equity is a universal human right and is integral to the creation of just societies. … So which perspective should drive global health efforts? … Too often … opportunities to collaborate are missed and efforts remain fragmented. … A more pragmatic way to align global health action might be to delineate actionable issues that incorporate key priorities from each perspective and around which the range of actors can integrate their activities. … [I]n order to meet the challenges of the moment and move forward on strong footing, organizations engaged in global health can find pragmatic ways to bring their efforts into alignment. If they fail to do so, we will continue to fall short of the potential that is within our grasp” (4/12).