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Why so great a no? | Global Heart | Volume 11, Issue 4, pp. 381-385

“Two other forces lock U.S. public health resources and institutions into outdated patterns: the failure to acknowledge the importance of economic development as a proper goal of health assistance, and the complexity of societal influences involved in the emergence of non-communicable diseases.”

Abstract

Chronic diseases are the dominant issues for global public health in terms of mortality, morbidity, and cost, and they have been identified as such for >40 years. Despite their predominance, however, these diseases— cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, cancer, pulmonary disease, mental health, and dementia—attract little attention in the public health curriculum and even less from the funding community. We explore the rationales that have perpetuated this inability or unwillingness to match need with effort. We examine 3 concepts that impede changing this relationship: 1) the traditional contextual view of public health that emerged, to be sure with great success, in the post-World War II era; 2) the failure of public health to transition to economic development as the goal of health assistance; and 3) the unwillingness of public health to confront social, political, and economic policies as the foci of upstream drivers of the public’s health. We conclude with a discussion of the need for public health to expand its horizon and tear down the walls of the silos that inhibit the emergence of relevant global public health.

The full set of Global Heart Papers included in this special Dec 2016 issue on global NCDs is available.