The Future of Global Health

In the last decades, globalization of the world has rapidly changed the way people think and see the world. Lifestyle has changed as people are becoming more concerned about their health and what happens around the world. The awareness of diseases, famine, and natural disasters have become an international concern and thanks to many scholars, individual donors, and international organizations that have focused on global health, international aid is reaching an increasing number of countries in need. However, the world is still too big and humanitarian needs are too expansive to effectively measure the efforts of international aid. What is the best, or most productive, way that international aid can contribute to global health fairly, efficiently, and effectively? To what extent should we be concerned about the allocations of such aid? 

Esther Duflo, a MIT economist, shows a different approach to thinking about the future global health through her experiments. The first experiment she introduced was how immunization is carried out to children by mothers in India. By giving incentives to mothers and making immunization easily accessible, the rate of immunization increased from 6% to 38%. Another interesting experiment she conducted focused on effective ways to prevent malaria in Kenya by either offering discounts on bed nets or giving it away for free. The result showed that people who received free nets were more likely to purchase the nets a year later than those who did not previously receive any. What does this tell us? By initially providing incentives and offering necessities for free, the recipients are able to recognize the increasing value of health and its priority in life. 

There are many essential factors for the future of global health such as delivering aid with accountability and transparency and improving health systems through combination of vertical and horizontal approaches. Yet, it is foremost for us to find ways of making health a priority for every individual. Primary health services should be more accessible especially to those in developing countries. Healthier individuals will contribute better in society creating a positive humanitarian domino effect. It is not about making donors happy with their contributions but rather making the recipients become happily self-sufficient with their health and living conditions. This is the challenge that we have to solve for the future of global health. 

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