By: Neha Katote, Faculty of Science, Dalhousie University, Medical Sciences Program
2021 Global Health Student Blog Writing Competition
Winner: Best Imagery
Growing up, I watched poverty bursting at the seams through the streets of India – that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Upon immigrating to Bermuda, I observed the struggle of assimilation take a toll on my health – again, just the tip of the iceberg. In Nova Scotia, I watched Indigenous lives fall victim to our healthcare system – just the tip of the iceberg.
Whether it is through social media or first-hand experience, from gender inequality to environmental sustainability, we see that these problems are visually prominent within society. But what’s underneath, beyond the tip of the iceberg? To me, that’s global health. Social, systemic and structural barriers in healthcare run deep. And sometimes, those with privilege can be blinded to these inequalities while those without are left behind. That’s where global health comes in.
To me, there are three main components of global health: research, education and collaboration. While we may not be able to see what’s underneath the iceberg, we can work towards uncovering what’s there. In other words, strive towards identifying the root causes of why these barriers exist in the first place. Understanding the factors that influence health on a global level is vital to understand where change must be made and how to approach it.
Implementing global change in terms of health is not easy; that’s where education and collaboration come in. I believe that a component of global health education is improving health literacy across communities. We must be well equipped to understand the complex and dynamic concepts involved in global health. Increasing the visibility of these systemic and structural barriers allows the general public to be educated on understanding various global health issues and how to take action to tackle these problems. Social media has played a massive role in inspiring change and social action across younger cohorts.
Collaboration plays a key role in maximizing health equity across borders. From international to cross-cultural collaboration, coming together on a global level requires a high level of compassion and communication. Problems prevalent in one country may not be the same as those in another. Nonetheless, these problems all affect human health and at the end of the day, health is a basic universal human right.
In summary, global health is more than what meets the eye; it transcends surface-level barriers to health and wellbeing. What we see on social media and within our community is just the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the iceberg can only be uncovered through research and education. With collaboration, hopefully, these disparities will become less invisible as we progress towards equitable health across borders.