What it means to address Global Health in the research field – Words from HDRI’s Global Health Research Coordinator

There is no global prosperity without global health

Vincenzo Lorusso

It is very timely for the “Human Development Research Initiative (HDRI)” to dedicate a full stream of its research to Global Health. An inevitable as much as a necessary decision, in these changing times when health-related issues are so inextricably intertwined with all the other development stances such as inequality, education, climate vulnerability and migration.

Global Health is defined as “an area for study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide. It emphasises transnational health issues, determinants and solutions; involving many disciplines within and beyond the health sciences and promoting interdisciplinary collaboration (…)” (Koplan and colleagues, 2009).

Accordingly, the HDRI-Global Health research team will endeavour to be as consistent as possible with this ‘broad’ and ‘comprehensive’ definition, aiming to tackle all our research topics from a ‘holistic’ perspective, encompassing passionately both biological and social sciences. When dealing with infectious diseases in particular, we will embrace the concept of “One World, One Health”, fostered by the WHO, FAO and OIE, in all awareness of the fact that 60% of known human infectious diseases originate from animals, as do 75% of emerging human diseases and 80% of the pathogens that could be potentially used in bioterrorism.

Let us get ready for this journey then! We aim to bring your attention everywhere we believe there is still an urgent need for it.

To all areas of the world where water sanitation and infant immunisation cannot be taken as for granted yet, from Latin America to South Asia. Among migrants on the shores and the harbours of Lampedusa, in the camps of Lesbos and Calais, in the prisons of Lybia, on the rescue ships and the makeshift boats daring the waves of the Mediterranean.

To the slums of Soweto, Kano and Nairobi, in sensitisation campaigns on the use of condoms, to remind the youths that antiretroviral drugs alone are not enough to make HIV disappear. To rural villages of Mali and the Horn of Africa where female genital mutilation is still a present, sad reality for many young girls. Across the provinces of China and Hong Kong to learn on and from the history of traditional medicine. Through the post-natal wards of hospitals in the so-called ‘developed countries’, where post-partum depression is still too often overlooked, thus, misdiagnosed. To the underprivileged suburbs of the USA and Asian metropoles, where access to primary health care is still a mirage for many. Across urban centres of western Europe, where increasingly torrid summers are favouring the emergence of ‘exotic’ tropical diseases such as Dengue fever and Chikugunya, among others.  Among textile workers in the outskirts of Karachi and Dhaka, to understand the health implications of the textile industry. To the nursing homes of Japan and Italy, countries currently hosting the largest aging population in the world. To the province of North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), whose inhabitants are confronted daily with the threat of Ebola. Through the forested areas still of the DRC and Uganda, where parasitic diseases such as malaria, river blindness, sleeping sickness, schistosomiasis and filariasis are still majorly impairing the lives of thousands.

Anywhere needed, across the planet.
Global Health, indeed.

Vincenzo Lorusso


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