2020, Academic Paper

“What’s past is prologue”: The Consideration of Health Interventions


Global health is a field that revolves around the intervention. Intervention into the health of countries, others, and ourselves. By reading the news, there will be announcements of campaigns, investments, or outbreaks that impact how countries, organizations, and people intervene. Yet, to fully understand the nature of global health interventions, it is necessary to investigate these interventions holistically: who intervenes, how do they do so, what is their motivation, what is their design, and how are they measured. Each of these involve important ethical questions on motivations, methods, evidence collection, and autonomy in a world reliant on biological and medical understandings in the health sphere. Without understanding the ethical implications of health interventions, they may continue to cause harm to a population while attempting to help.
This academic paper offers a deep dive into these evaluative questions to answer the question: what is at the core of these global health interventions? In the history of global health since the genesis of its contemporary form in the late 19th century, there have been numerous illustrative examples that I use to explore the historical, political, and methodical trends in global health interventions. I utilize previous literature on case studies and these trends to synthesize a critical analysis on these core questions in intervening and utilize a bioethics in policy framework to provide commentary on this analysis.
This analysis highlights that, in an attempt to improve the health of others, underlying motivations, methods, and design demonstrate trends of unethical policy that has promoted harm or challenges under the guise of helping others. This applies to self-interested motives for intervention, short-sighted intervention designs that make no long-term investments, commodification of health and people, and historical legacies that remain unaddressed. This analysis then suggests that inclusion, self-empowerment, and acknowledgment of these legacies can contribute to an ethical and sustainable framework of global health that critically considers from the impacts of previous interventions.


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