GHS 201A - Foundations of Global Health

This course introduces the principles of global health and provides the essential background for the other core courses. Students will study both macro and disease-specific major global health challenges, strategies for responding to them, key institutions, and international health frameworks.


At the end of the course students will be able to:

  • Define global health and globalization and describe the principles and scope of global health
  • Identify the key bilateral and multilateral institutions, political bodies and non-governmental organizations that contribute to health promotion and policies
  • Understand Sustainable and Millennium Development Goals and how they are being measured
  • Compare and contrast different international health systems, policies and frameworks
  • Recognize major global health threats and challenges and critically appraise strategies to respond to them
  • Be prepared to participate in complex global health work using a sound ethical approach

Course content

  • Global health and development: Defining global health, measuring health, overview of the global burden of disease, health as a component of development, health-related development strategies and targets, Sustainable and Millennium Development Goals.
  • Humans and the environment: Water, sanitation, land use, agricultural reform, climate change and health consequences of environmental degradation.
  • Human population growth and health: Medical demography, consequences of population growth, controlling population growth, global burden of disease.
  • Globalization and migration: Global markets, communications and information technology, mobility and migration, urbanization, cross-cultural interactions; work force and brain drain.
  • Principles of global public health I: non-communicable diseases. Chronic diseases, mental health, injuries; epidemiologic transition; preparing for and dealing with major global public health threats: humanitarian emergencies, essential medicines list
  • Principles of global public health II: infectious and tropical diseases.
    Guest lecturer: Sandra Schwarcz, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor of Epidemiology: International disease prevention and control, communicable diseases, International Health Regulations, neglected tropical diseases, prevention strategies
  • Principles of global health III: maternal-child health and nutrition. Diseases of pregnancy and early childhood, nutritional deficiencies, interventions to improve obstetrical and early childhood outcomes
  • Global health governance: Key institutions, their agendas, role and responsibilities; legal framework for global health and health-related international treaties and agreements; intellectual property, World Trade Agreement.
  • Partnerships in global health: International collaboration; bilateral and multilateral aid organizations; types and management of projects, principles and ethics, evaluation; sustainability and scale up; global public-private partnerships.
  • Research and development: New drug, research and development, technology transfer; malaria vaccine, HIV vaccines and microbicides, newer TB drugs and diagnostics; ethics of global health research, 10/90 gap

Course director

George Rutherford, MD, MPH

Teaching format

Lectures, seminars, independent study, assigned papers

Course credit

2 units