The changing global context of public health
Future health prospects depend increasingly on globalisation processes and on the impact of global environmental change. Economic globalisation—entailing deregulated trade and investment—is a mixed blessing for health. Economic growth and the dissemination of technologies have widely enhanced life expectancy. However, aspects of globalisation are jeopardising health by eroding social and environmental conditions, exacerbating the rich-poor gap, and disseminating consumerism. Global environmental changes reflect the growth of populations and the intensity of economic activity. These changes include altered composition of the atmosphere, land degradation, depletion of terrestrial aquifers and ocean fisheries, and loss of biodiversity. This weakening of life-supporting systems poses health risks. Contemporary public health must therefore encompass the interrelated tasks of reducing social and health inequalities and achieving health-sustaining environments.