The globalization of health care delivery is a historic development. It has the potential to provide the benefits of biomedical science to almost every human community. However, a stark contrast persists between the universal aspirations of medical science and the social, economic, and political forces that shape health and health care on the ground.
The challenge of delivering quality care, whether in Boston, Kigali, or anyplace else, cannot be reduced to its technical parameters: it poses deep historical, philosophical, and social-scientific questions. Unless practitioners and the educated public are able to reflect thoughtfully on such questions, global health delivery will be shackled by its present constraints.
The HMS Center for Global Health Delivery was founded to develop systems and tools for the last phase of health care delivery. Its work has underscored the importance of reflective learning that can complement the action-oriented pragmatic agenda of global health. Without a partnership between action and reflection, it is evident that we will struggle to deliver care to those in need.
Reflection on the meanings of global health delivery brings a consciousness of shared humanity to bear on healing; it brings an overarching sense of mission to bear on healing; and it aims to supplement the powerful medical and technological tools at our disposal with tools of thoughtful observation, to advance the dual objectives of individual healing and social justice.
The broader mission of the HMS Department of Global Health and Social Medicine is to promote interdisciplinary teaching and research in the social sciences and humanities on health, illness, health care delivery, and healing. In this work, DGHSM would benefit from a “pathway to praxis” between pedagogy and delivery, linking analyses from history, anthropology and sociology to health care action.