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Globalisation and public health

Globalisation is increasingly important to, and an interlinked feature of, public health.

Many of today’s health problems are of a global nature and related closely to the challenges associated with globalisation. This is because health issues transcend national boundaries and so we need to think about how this has implications for healthcare and nursing practice.

The World Health Organization’s global burden of disease data shows how average life expectancy is increasing throughout the world. Globalisation contributes to increased longevity through, for example, advanced technology, sharing of information and best practice, and the transportation of medicines and other health supplies (Bradbury-Jones 2009). This is a success story for public health, but what about the challenges for public health of increased longevity and ageing?

Let’s consider one issue concerning public health today. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) caused 71% of all global deaths in 2016. This ranged from 37% in low-income countries to 88% in high-income countries (WHO 2018a). Ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in high- and middle-income countries but significantly they are now predominant in low-income countries.

Wherever in the world as a nurse we practice, we are likely to spend time caring for and supporting people with a heart-related condition. It is argued by some (eg Allen and Figel 2017) that as an NCD it should perhaps be reframed as a ‘socially transmitted condition’ due to the fact that most heart-related deaths are linked to four risk factors: tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and alcohol (WHO 2018b).

If you are interested in learning more about this subject, we encourage you to read Huynen, M., Martens, P., and Hilderink, H. (2005) ‘The Health Impacts of Globalization: A Conceptual Framework’, which you can access from the Recommended reading section below.

Your task

Create a flow chart or diagram that you could share with your nursing colleagues in your area of practice that illustrates how globalisation is having a complex impact on the risk factors, globally, for ischaemic heart disease and stroke. You could do this using a word processing tool such as Microsoft Word, with a presentation tool such as PowerPoint, or you could draw your chart by hand, then take a picture of it with your phone.

You will need to think about the structural, social, economic and political determinants of health and how they operate downstream, midstream and upstream.

Aim to convey in your flow chart or diagram why there is an argument that it may be more appropriate for ischaemic heart disease and stroke, as with other NCDs, to be known as a socially transmitted condition (Allen and Fiegel 2017).

Visit one of the following Padlet walls and upload your table. You can find further information about Padlet below.

Please remember to:

  • include your name on your post – this should be the same name you use on the FutureLearn platform
  • add a title and a short description to help your peers understand what it is
  • identify one other posting which is dissimilar to yours and critically and objectively review the key points made.

Help using Padlet

Padlet is a simple tool that allows you to post your ideas and/or share media (eg images, video) with other learners.

To add your content to the wall select the + icon or double-click on the wall itself. You will then be able to either upload what you have discovered or link to a URL that is available in your browser address bar. For more information on how to post, please visit the Padlet website.

By following any of the links to Padlet you will be taken to a third party website. On this website you may be asked to submit some information about yourself. Please make sure you are familiar with the terms and conditions and privacy policy of the third party website before submitting your information.

Whether you follow the links and submit your personal information or not, your course progress will in no way be affected.

Huynen, M., Martens, P., and Hilderink, H. (2005) ‘The Health Impacts of Globalization: A Conceptual Framework’. Globalization and Health [online] 1 (14). available from http://globalizationandhealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1744-8603-1-14 [19 June 2018]


Allen, L., and Feigl, A. (2017) ‘Reframing Non-communicable Diseases as Socially Transmitted Conditions’. The Lancet Global Health. available from https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S2214109X17302000 [19 June 2018]

Bradbury-Jones, C. (2009) ‘Globalisation and its Implications for Healthcare and Nursing Practice’. Nursing Standard. 23 (25), 43-47

World Health Organization (2018a) The Top 10 Causes of Death [online]. available from http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death [19 June 2018]

World Health Organization (2018b) Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013-2020 [online]. available from http://www.who.int/nmh/events/ncd_action_plan/en/ [19 June 2018]

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This article is from the free online course:

Could You Be the Next Florence Nightingale?

Coventry University