BMC Public Health (Aug 2020)

“Public health is global”: examining Indian stakeholders’ perspectives on Global Health education

  • Shailendra Sawleshwarkar,
  • Sanjay Zodpey,
  • Joel Negin

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 20, no. 1
pp. 1 – 12


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Abstract Background Global health education has attracted significant attention in recent years from academic institutions in developed countries. In India however, a recent analysis found that delivery of global health education is fragmented and called for academic institutions to work towards closing the developing country/developed country dichotomy. Our study explored the understanding of global health in the Indian setting and opportunities for development of a global health education framework in Indian public health institutions. Methods The study involved semi-structured interviews with staff of Indian public health institutes and other key stakeholders in global health in India. The interview questions covered participants’ interpretation of global health and their opinion about global health education in India. Thematic analysis was conducted. A theoretical framework developed by Smith and Shiffman to explain political priority for global health initiatives was adapted to guide our analysis to explore development of global health education in Indian public health institutions. Results A total of 17 semi-structured interviews were completed which involved 12 faculty members from five public health institutes and five stakeholders from national and multilateral organisations. Global health was viewed as the application of public health in real-world setting and at a broader, deeper and transnational scale. The understanding of global health was informed by participants’ exposure to work experiences and interaction with overseas faculty. Most common view about the relationship between global health and public health was that public health has become more global and both are interconnected. Integration of global health education into public health curriculum was supported but there were concerns given public health was still a new discipline in India. Most participants felt that global health competencies are complementary to public health competencies and build on core public health skills. Employability, faculty exposure to global health and ‘sensitisation’ of all stakeholders were key barriers to offering global health education programs. Conclusion Global health as a concept and educational practice is embryonic in India but there is considerable potential to grow in order to ensure that education meets the needs of future practitioners of global health in the context of sustainable development.