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Why we are named the Department of International Health

Many still debate the precise meaning of international health and global health. Based on the current range of definitions, the Department could change its name to Global Health. We believe it is important not to.

  • Our Department was founded on the principles of Internationalism – the belief that we can overcome divisions of nationalism, class, poverty, and other obstacles to health equity and social justice through the promise of science, public health practice and education.
  • International cooperation is integral to our mission. The Department places importance on understanding and working within local and national contexts, as well as with international agencies such as the World Health Organization.
  • National governments play a significant role protecting and improving a country’s health. We partner directly with national governments, helping to build local capacity and reduce inequities within individual countries, and across countries.
  • We partner with local communities and state and national governments, both domestically and internationally, to help develop locally practical and sustainable solutions to improve health. Our name acknowledges that health conditions vary by country and community, and that solutions range from global to local.

Since its foundation almost 60 years ago, the Department has viewed international health as a complex mix of health problems, politics, economics, culture and environment. Our mission to work with the world’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged people to improve their health and well-being has remained constant. Our faculty, students, staff and alumni remain committed to social justice and improving health equity for all people wherever they live.

To learn more, see False Distinctions Between International Health and Global Health a Global Health Now Exclusive by Dr. David Peters, November 2, 2017.