Geographies of health: local and global issues

by Madeleine Hatfield

World Health Organisation South Face (by Yann Forget CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Health is a long-standing research field to which geographers have made significant contributions, covering subjects from the provision of health care, to environmental impacts on health and the spread of epidemics. This is salient in domestic contexts, such as in regard to the UK’s current debates on the proposed restructuring of the National Health Service; and in global ones in tackling widespread diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, and viral outbreaks – the topic of a 21st Century Challenges event at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG).

Two papers published in this month’s issue of The Geographical Journal highlight the geographical contributions to health research in both local and global contexts. In terms of local health provision, Hawthorne and Kwan show how residents in a lower-income community in Columbus, Ohio (USA), judge health services in terms of quality and so even if they have a nearby facility, if they perceive it as of low-quality, they consider themselves to be a long way from health care. Scaling up, Brown and Moon provide a useful summary of past and future avenues for geographical research on global health.

BBC News 2012 Ministers promise NHS bill concessions 6 March

Global Health in the 21st Century, 7 March 2012, 21st Century Challenges event at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

Brown T and Moon G 2012 Geography and global health The Geographical Journal 178 13–17 [Free to access in 2012]

Hawthorne T L and Kwan M-P 2012 Using GIS and perceived distance to understand the unequal geographies of healthcare in lower-income urban neighbourhoods The Geographical Journal 178 18–30 [Free to access in 2012]


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