Where to Now?

Vector Journal & GHC Writing Competition


What: “We are resolved to free the human race within this generation from the tyranny of poverty and want, and to heal and secure our planet for the present and for future generations.” – The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Society is at a critical juncture in world history whereby a fragile balance exists between global health, effects of modern-life, social constructs, politics and economy.[1] The 2003 SARS epidemic encapsulates how unprecedented population growth and adverse living conditions have facilitated cross-species shift of organisms.[1] Despite incredible medical advances, our exponential increase in knowledge has not matched public health progress as seen with the re-emergence of polio in conflict-affected areas.[2]

Why: “If we see injustice, why can’t we make a change right now?” – Mr Kon Karapanagiotidis GHC 2017

From conversing with Dr Stewart Condon, poor application of knowledge due to differing political/financial agendas have largely been to blame. These stem from a failure of stakeholders/society to appreciate the ‘complex links between social and economic aspects’ [1] of disease and address health at a world-population level.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no shortage of resources to improve global health,[3] only a lack of moral imagination and political will to change long-standing, inefficient healthcare systems and implement strategies to broaden attitudes towards health.

Where to now? “The world is coming to recognise more and more that problems in one country reverberate in another…this is why it is so important to make the most of our collective strengths.”  – Ban Ki Moon

Moving forward, societal introspection are shifting from a narrow, monetised view of global health to a multi-faceted appreciation for an interdependent world that can drive forces for change. Greater emphasis should be placed on collaboration to address health inequalities and social determinants of health.

As privileged medical students with access to platforms that engage our community, we can challenge the complacency of those who don’t fully comprehend the magnitude of impact every individual has on others less fortunate. As future doctors, we should endeavour to couple excellent care of individual patients to public health programs that more efficiently disseminates information and healthcare.

Although the way forward is challenging, it’s not impossible with positive steps such as the creation of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) aiming to efficiently develop new vaccines to prevent epidemics.

“It is because it is so dark that we need to burn the brightest right now.”

– Mr Kon Karapanagiotidis GHC 2017

Helena Qian

Helena is a 3rd year medical student at the University of Newcastle with a keen interest in improving global health and aiding underserved communities. She hopes to work with WHO and MSF in the future as a collaborative researcher, advocate, field doctor and volunteer.

Conflicts of Interest

None declared 




  1. Solomon R Benatar Global Health: Where to Now? Retrieved 2017, August 19; Last Updated Unknown; Global Health Governance, 2009;11;2 Available from: <http://www.ghgj.org/Benatar_Global%20Health.pdf>
  2. Akil L, Ahmad HA. The recent outbreaks and reemergence of poliovirus in war and conflict-affected areas.Retrieved 2017, August 19; Last Updated 2016; International journal of infectious diseases : IJID : official publication of the International Society for Infectious Diseases. 2016;49:40-46. doi:10.1016/j.ijid.2016.05.025.
  3. Benatar, Daar, and Singer, “Global health ethics: the rationale for mutual caring”; Benatar, Gill and Bakker, “Making progress in global health: the need for new paradigms.” Retrieved 2017, August 21; Last Updated Unknown


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