In its broadest sense international health (sometimes referred to as "global health") is a systematic consideration of all the factors that affect the health of human populations. Among these factors are the genetic, ethnic, and cultural makeup of individuals and groups; the natural environment, including biologic, physical, and climatologic aspects; the political and economic environment; and special circumstances such as population migration, warfare, and violence. Also within the definition is a study of the structure, policies, and functions of the varied components of the health sector. In any one country, the health sector is made up of national and local governmental public agencies, commercial private enterprises, and the many nongovernmental organizations that contribute to improving health.
Persons interested in international health may seek specific training and skills in health or behavioral sciences, economics, anthropology, communications, management, or a wide variety of other fields. International health specialists are employed in colleges and universities, schools of medicine and public health, international or government agencies, humanitarian or charitable organizations, or commercial companies. Some may be self-employed as individual consultants. They may work in fields as diverse as basic biomedical research, immunization policy, implementation of programs in remote communities, or studies of international agencies concerned with health. Some scholars may analyze and compare the medical care systems of the industrialized countries of North America, western Europe, Japan, Australia, or New Zealand. As a practical matter, however, most professionals in this field are concerned with issues such as the control of infectious and other diseases, interactions of health and economic development, education and training, or the financing and operation of medical care institutions in the poorer countries.
PAUL F. BASCH, The Gale Group Inc., Macmillan Reference USA, New York,