Bioethics Blogs

Global Health Collaborations: Justice, not Charity

Parisa Fallah and Mark Bernstein advocate for sustainable, educational, and collaborative approaches to global health work.


People doing global health work are often regarded as altruistic, but perhaps we should pause and think about this. Is it possible that the way we view global health work is wrong? What if this mode of thinking is counterproductive to the very goal of addressing health inequities? Could an entirely different mindset allow our global health efforts to more effectively lead to positive change?

Global health work should not be viewed as a philanthropic, optional endeavor, but instead should be considered a necessary undertaking to combat systemic inequities and to restore justice. We must make healthcare equitable worldwide, and we must do so through sustainable, educational, and collaborative approaches.

Several centuries ago, colonialism ravaged the global south. Countries were robbed of their resources and were overtaken by the quickly-growing industrialized empires of the north. When these countries finally gained independence, they were impoverished. Their resources were gone, their economies ruined, and their healthcare systems destroyed. The consequences of colonialism were dire and still exist today. Fortunately, there are people ready to help tackle one of the world’s toughest issues – access to healthcare.

Health is a human right. It is not a luxury reserved for the few; rather, it is a necessity that should be available, accessible, and affordable to all at the best quality possible. We need to recognize that we are a global family – that we need to take care of one another simply because we are all fellow human beings.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.