Global Health Justice and Governance Program

The Program on Global Health Justice and Governance (PGHJG) is launching in October 2018. Anchored in the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health (HDPFH) but focused school-wide, the Program addresses gender, environment and climate, and food justice. It integrates expertise from various sectors at Columbia University, such as public health, law, and scientific scholarship and practice, to promote, protect, and fulfill the right to health. Ultimately, the Program seeks to effect change at the intersection of public health, justice, and governance, which is unique among schools of public health.

The Program’s overarching principles include generating research in partnership with affected individuals, and influencing the governance standards that affect their lives and livelihoods at the international or national level. It also considers social movements and activism to be critical to justice and human rights, improved governance, and accountability. The Program will offer academic expertise to the grassroots expertise and learning priorities of NGOs promoting gender, environmental, climate, and food justice as they relate to health.

HDPFH decided to launch this program in response to ongoing global turmoil around human rights and worsening health inequities. New global trends are posing new challenges and longstanding global commitments to public health initiatives are increasingly questioned or ignored. Consequent poor health outcomes disproportionately impact women, girls and low-income populations.

We can help disrupt these dynamics through better governance. Governance includes international covenants, treaties and agreements that affect health and laws, policies, and standard practice at all levels of the health system, ranging from WHO guidelines, to policies for financing hospitals, to routinized corruption in primary healthcare facilities. Understanding who makes the rules and in whose interest, and promoting change driven by the priorities and participation of those most affected represents a public health agenda for the next era in global health.

What will the PGHJG do? PGHJG work will address three major areas: gender justice, environmental justice, and food justice. It will convene interdisciplinary collaboratives across the Mailman School of Public Health and the wider university, engaging both scholars and practitioners with expertise in human rights, public health, and the social, natural, and clinical sciences. In partnership with communities, NGOs, and social movements, we will draw on innovative work in public health and development.