Considering that the majority of master’s programmes within the Global Studies Institute are not directly health-related, my incentive to write this blog is to highlight the importance of health by demonstrating that health impacts, and is in turn impacted by, many sectors of society. Additionally, I introduce the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, an organisation dedicated to improving tropical medicine and global health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”[1]. Health therefore can impact all aspects of life and, conversely, all aspects of life can affect health. Let us reflect on the effects of exercise, diet, occupation, and support networks on physical, mental and social wellbeing and we can begin to understand this bidirectional relationship. Expanding from this, it is evident that policies, environmental and economic factors will in turn influence access to exercise, diet and social networks. International law, health economics, health systems, global health governance and diplomacy as well as environmental and planetary health, are all essential ingredients in a global health melting pot, many of which are equally as important in other global studies. As Global Studies students, we should appreciate the importance of these influences as we assess global challenges and consider the factors impacting and the impact of health of both individuals and society.

Using a real-world example to demonstrate this point, the Sustainable Development Goals were developed to strive towards a better and more sustainable future for the world, and inter-country collaboration is vital. Although only one goal (SDG 3) is directly health-related, we can indirectly attribute health to the majority of the other goals.[2] For example, reducing poverty (SDG 1) and eliminating hunger (SDG 2) will reduce the burden of disease by enhancing people’s ability to fight disease, and providing them with the ability to afford treatment if they develop a disease. Moreover, improving health globally will positively impact education (SDG 4) and work (SDG 8), as people will be able to adjust their time and resources to these important areas of their lives. Global health underlies the sustainable development goals; ensuring collaboration between sectors is vital to attain successful development in these interlinking goals.

But how can we get involved as students in global studies? I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (RSTMH). As a lead player aiming to improve global health and tropical medicine, this organisation does so by creating a large global network of researchers who share ideas, resources and results to drive impact forward. Two annual events present the most up-to-date research, and two journals are published, “International Health” and “Transactions” with articles focusing on current topics in global health and tropical medicine respectively. Additionally, there are opportunities to apply for grants and awards, with a focus on supporting early career researchers and recognising excellence in these fields. It is possible to become a member, or even a student ambassador, with opportunities to become involved in promoting the organisation and helping it evolve. If you have not yet investigated this organisation and the opportunities they bring to apply for a grant, attend an event, present your own research or even become a published author in one of these high impact factor global peer-reviewed journals, it is worth taking a look (www.rstmh.org). The valuable opportunities and knowledge provided by the RSTMH can assist us in working together towards the common goal of tackling global health challenges.



[1] World Health Organization Constitution. Available from: https://www.who.int/about/who-we-are/constitution. Last accessed 31.03.2019.

[2] The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Available from: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/. Last accessed 01.04.2019.