Social justice is a matter of life and death. It affects the way people live, their consequent chance of illness, and their risk of premature death. We watch in wonder as life expectancy and good health continue to increase in parts of the world and in alarm as they fail to improve in others. A girl born today can expect to live for more than 80 years if she is born in some countries – but less than 45 years if she is born in others. Within countries there are dramatic differences in health that are closely linked with degrees of social disadvantage. Differences of this magnitude, within and between countries, simply should never happen.
These inequities in health, avoidable health inequalities, arise because of the circumstances in which people grow, live, work, and age, and the systems put in place to deal with illness. The conditions in which people live and die are, in turn, shaped by political, social, and economic forces.
Social and economic policies have a determining impact on whether a child can grow and develop to its full potential and live a flourishing life, or whether its life will be blighted. Increasingly the nature of the health problems rich and poor countries has to solve are converging. The development of a society, rich or poor, can be judged by the quality of its population’s health, how fairly health is distributed across the social spectrum, and the degree of protection provided from disadvantage as a result of ill-health”.
(CSDH (2008) Closing the gap in a generation: health equity through action on the social determinants of health. Final Report of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health. Geneva, World Health Organization. From the foreword.)
The Center for Global Health Equity is a multidisciplinary and multisectoral Center housed in the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Science, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, serving as a focal point for addressing health, technology and development, and disparities in health systems and health outcomes.
Center staff participate in capacity building in the Health Sector in a number of countries, designing innovative undergraduate and graduate training programs to meet the needs of the health sector in sub-Saharan Africa and in Haiti. Additionally, Center staff work to improve program-focused Health Monitoring and Evaluation, e and mHealth solutions for public health problems, Global Health Security, developing new surveillance tools and interventions for vulnerable and at-risk populations, and health information systems.
With respect to health outcomes, the Center affiliates interested faculty at Tulane and elsewhere in the US with international scholars and activists on projects, position papers, and publications concerning social, cultural, economic and political causes of health disparities including gender, age, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, poverty and regional issues. The goal of the Center is to better understand the relationship of these factors to health outcomes, and design comprehensive interventions to respond using innovative solutions.
Affiliates include anthropologists, sociologists, epidemiologists, physicians, veterinarians, Monitoring and Evaluation professionals, other public health professions, ICT professionals including Software engineers and economists.