Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Center for Global Health

What is Global Health?

With the expansion of international aid, the term "global health" has become more common. But, what do we mean by "global health," as opposed to "public health" or "international health?" The table below (Koplan JP et al. Lancet 2009, 373:1) attempts to draw out the primary distinctions between these three terms:


Global Health

Health issues that transcend national boundariesGlobalPrevention and clinical careHealth equity among nationsHighly interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary

International Health

Focus on issues outside of one’s own countryBi-nationalPrevention and clinical careHelp other nationsEmbraces a few disciplines

Public Health

Focus on specific communities or countriesNationalPreventionHealth equity within a nation or communityMultidisciplinary, particularly with health and social sciences

Source: Koplan JP et al. Lancet 2009, 373:9679 pp 1993-1995