Sandy Johnson is a lecturer in International Studies and director of the BA Program at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies. In this piece, she introduces her latest book, Challenges in Health and Development: From Global to Community Perspectives
A friend and development practitioner once told me that development is a messy business. It lacks a clear beginning and a clear ending, it entails unforeseen consequences, and it cannot happen in isolation-- multiple policy sectors must be involved to establish the conditions for 'development' to occur.
My own experience is more closely tied to community health, where I have seen that creating the conditions to allow people to live a healthful and comfortable life is also a messy business. Often those who work in programs of economic development and those who work in public health and in healthcare delivery function as though their projects occur in an environment devoid of history, culture, and the influence of any institution, object, or policy other than their own. Although I believe that such tunnel vision often comes out of necessity, it does not honor the intricacies of the health-development web. It was with this in mind that I wrote Challenges in Health and Development: From Global to Community Perspective -- a book just published by Springer.
This book has three objectives. The first is to introduce the reader to the idea that there is not one single operational definition of health or of development, nor can there be given the diversity of cultures, needs, and desires found on a plant of six billion people. Rather, I look at several of the more common definitions of, and approaches to, health and development as utilized by the World Health Organization and the World Bank.
The second goal of this book is to describe how actions that occur on different geographical scales and in different institutional domains impact each other. Meso-, macro-, and micro-policy realms are inextricably linked. So, too, are operations designed to alter population health and programs that seek to enhance material well-being, be it of a household, a community, or a state.
The final goal of this book is to illustrate how the public and private institutions need each other. Geopolitical conditions in the 21st century necessitate public and private sectors working together. Although these institutions may not have the same explicit goal, both public and private agents can gain through strategic alliances and methodological innovation.
My hope is that the reader gains some appreciation for the diversity found in the fields of health and development, and uses this book as a beginning rather than an end to her or his own exploration of the topics.