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10 November 2022

Why health is more than a medical matter

As part of celebrations to launch a new exhibition to mark 10 years of Global Health & Social Medicine at King’s, alumnus Beauty Dhlamini spoke about the social determinants of disease.

GHSM on from 10 exhibition

The Department of Global Health & Social Medicine (GHSM) recently celebrated the launch of its 10th anniversary exhibition, showcasing its impact and collaborations around the world.

As part of the launch activities, Beauty Dhlamini discussed what drew her to study the field and her thoughts on the challenges moving forward with Head of Department, Professor Anne Pollock.

Beauty encouraged a rethink of the categories associated with health and the need to spotlight just how much the social determinants of health determine an individual's experience of disease.

How we think about disease and the categorisations – I feel like they need to change or merge a bit more. And I say this because three years ago, if you had said me that we would be in a global pandemic with an infectious disease, I would have laughed at you and said, we’ve got rid of infectious disease – that’s a thing of the past! And it wouldn’t impact the world in such a way where it [impacts] working conditions, working patterns, how we think about vaccines and all of that stuff.

Beauty Dhlamini
Professor Anne Pollock in conversation with alumnus, Beauty Dhlamini
Professor Anne Pollock in conversation with alumnus, Beauty Dhlamini

Beauty also spoke about the social determinants of health, including housing, climate change, working conditions and racial justice.

Department founder Professor Nikolas Rose also outlined why an interdisciplinary and collaborative ethos is needed to address structural inequality and structural violence.

He also praised the department for its ability to work within and between societies, notably between the Global North and the Global South.

[Global] health may sound like a global issue, but actually it’s experienced in very different and specific local environments.

Professor Nikolas Rose

The exhibition, Partnerships, Power, Potential: GHSM on from 10 showcases the global reach of the department and the vital contribution made by collaborators and partners. It includes research projects being undertaken by academics and students in the UK, Chile, China, India and South Africa, among other places.

Topics covered include ageing populations, mental health, reproductive health, COVID-19 and cancer care.

It was such a pleasure to be able to hear from our visionary founder Nikolas Rose, and to be in conversation with an extraordinary graduate of our undergraduate programme Beauty Dhlamini who is articulating an urgent future vision for our fields, and all in community with such supportive colleagues, students, and friends of the department.

Professor Anne Pollock
GHSM on from 10 photo (2)

Professor Pollock: “The exhibition ‘Partnerships, Power, and Potential’ showcased a tremendous range of GHSM’s work to date, and that set of alliterative themes worked through the images collected in fascinating way.”

The Department of Global Health & Social Medicine was established in 2012 and brings together a community of scholars that recognise health as more than a medical matters.

Bringing critical perspectives when addressing today's global health challenges, the department and its partners are able to make sustainable impacts in a decolonising world.