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Affected Countries, Communities Should Conduct Global Health Priority-Setting

“Global health is changing — both in policy and practice,” Alanna Shaikh, a development consultant and blogger currently working on a USAID-funded health project, writes in an opinion piece in the Guardian’s “Global Development Professionals Network” blog, adding the field is getting “far more attention in the past decade than in the years before,” which “also creates challenges.” Finding ways to prioritize resources and issues can be difficult, she says, but using the “global health perspective is valuable across the board” because it “focuses on linkages — between individuals, communities and nations, and among health topics.”

Because not every health issue affects every country or community in the same way, each of those entities should set their own priorities for global health, with international organizations and donor countries there to assist with capacity, Shaikh says. “That means basic topical training on health issues, if needed, and it means supporting data-based decision-making and the ability to collect and analyze data in the first place,” she writes. “Finally, when we do provide targeted health aid, it should strengthen the system, not the disease of the month,” she states, noting, “[S]ystem interventions like improving referrals between levels of care, developing medical education, and upgrading health facilities will be more effective in reducing the impact of” global health issues from road accidents to Ebola (12/3).