Global health is about improving health and healthcare, but much more besides. Illness and ageing are human experiences, shaped by language and meaning, by cultural knowledge and values, and by social, political, economic and environmental conditions. Health inequalities, and uneven access to basic healthcare are increasingly global matters, with profound effects on individuals, and on social and political relations worldwide. The ‘Right to Health’ needs to be reasoned, from legal, ethical and philosophical standpoints, if impetus towards Universal Health Coverage is to be maintained.
KGHI benefits from recent strategic investments in the Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy – with a new School of Global Affairs, aligning new departments of Global Health and Social Medicine, and International Development, with the Department of Geography, and the Brazil, India and China Institutes. Global Affairs is complemented by a new Policy Institute, a new Business School, and established strengths in Politics and Economics, Health Economics, War Studies, and Defence and Security.
Social scientists from each of these groups; comprising ethnographers, anthropologists, philosophers, ethicists, geographers, political scientists, policy researchers, social gerontologists, and health economists; are actively engaged, with health researchers in KGHI’s research and education programs. Global Health and Social Medicine is a unique interdisciplinary department founded in 2012 to explore the complex social determinants of health, illness and ageing, and the ways in which advances in biomedicine and biotechnology are changing expectations about life and health, and the nature of medical practice. GHSM has extensive global reach, with a particular focus on India, China and Brazil, and more recently, Africa. Research agendas include; exploring issues of social justice, democracy, and social and individual identity, in the context of scientific and technological innovation; sociological, anthropological and historical research into the social implications of biomedical knowledge and practices; and the social, economic and policy consequences of ageing populations in both developed and developing worlds.
At KGHI, we are committed to achieving greater interdisciplinarity in education, training and research, because we believe it is essential for progress. Social determinants, and the mechanisms through which they operate need to be understood and addressed to close the health and treatment gaps between more and less developed nations, and for those disadvantaged by status or geography. Effective implementation of healthcare solutions requires detailed cultural and health system understanding, alongside behavioural and management science. Political science and economics underpin effective knowledge translation into policy and practice. We need to be working directly with policymakers, patients and public. Interdisciplinarity is therefore a feature of all of our current major programmes that focus on healthcare improvement, with strong stakeholder engagement at all levels of the health system, a culturally-informed approach, and a clear focus on impacts, including equity.