The Lancet Offline: The case for global health

21 May, 2023

As usual, Richard Horton's column in this week's issue of The Lancet is thought-provoking. Extracts below, full text here:

'Global health has become fashionably unfashionable. The case against global health is strong. Global health is the invention of a largely white and wealthy elite residing in high-income, English-language speaking countries... It is hard to avoid the conclusion that global health is little more than an exclusive club, disguising its colonial origins and practices in the stirring language of equity and justice...

'[and yet] While we identify enemies among ourselves, we miss the larger story of just who our opponents really are—those trying to destroy the conditions for achieving the right to health, equity, liberty, and social justice. For the real enemies of the values we stand for do not sit within the ranks of global health. They are to be found in governments that instinctively mistrust—and who wish to undermine and defund—global organisations. They will be found among those who demonise refugees. They are the climate sceptics, anti-vaxxers, and purveyors of scientific misinformation. They are those who attack the redistribution of wealth, those who believe that war brings peace, and those who defend racism under the guise of patriotism. Global health practitioners should certainly engage in robust discussions about the meaning of their discipline. But they should be clear about who our struggle is really against. It is not global health. Instead, we must work harder together to create a new political frontier and forge a new collective against the true enemies of health...'

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of HIFA (Healthcare Information For All), a global health community that brings all stakeholders together around the shared goal of universal access to reliable healthcare information. HIFA has 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting in four languages and representing all parts of the global evidence ecosystem. HIFA is administered by Global Healthcare Information Network, a UK-based nonprofit in official relations with the World Health Organization. Email: