Global Public Health

Kavita Sivaramakrishnan is completing a book the global science and politics of age and aging after the Second World War. With support from the NSF, the project examines how anxieties about populations have evolved; how aging has been defined through the lens of disease, demography, development and human rights; and how experts have shaped these anxieties amongst the politics of decolonization and international health. Pfizer, Inc., has also supported Sivaramakrishnan’s work on aging-related policies in emerging economies.

With funding from the NEH, Sivaramakrishnan is working on another book project with David Jones, Harvard University, on the politics of heart disease, science and modernization in India. This project explores how heart disease came to be seen as a problem in India in the decades after its independence in 1947, situating it within the politics of decolonization and the interactions between international and national experts as they shaped a new, global profession. It explores a unique paradox of burgeoning interest in heart disease and cardiac technology in the 1940 and 1950s at a time when India’s overwhelming epidemiological burden still stemmed from infectious diseases and malnutrition. The study will explore how and why cardiology and cardiac surgery first gained footholds at medical institutions in India; how the two specialties were then taken up as an important component of India’s national health agenda; how international networks of medical training and exchange fostered these developments amid the complexity of Cold War politics; and the consequences of this history for patients and physicians who grapple with heart disease in India.

The Center is also involved in an initiative to develop international ethical guidelines for public health surveillance. While there are some international guidelines for HIV surveillance, for many years now experts have recognized that guidelines that cut across diseases and conditions represent a major gap in the governance of public health. The WHO, in collaboration with its Network of Collaborating Centers for Bioethics (Ronald Bayer, chair, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health), launched a groundbreaking initiative to develop an ethics of public health surveillance in Geneva in May 2014. With a colleague from Iran, Amy Fairchild is Co-Chair for the group of leading public health ethicists and surveillance experts from representing low-, middle-, and high-income countries, major NGOs such as Medicines san frontiers, CIOMS, and the US Presidential Commission for Bioethics pwith technical experts from the WHO and the CDC as they draft what will be the first set of international guidelines governing public health surveillance.

  • Sivaramakrishnan, K. (2015). Histories of Health, Disease and Medicine from a 'Zigzag' Perspective. Bulletin for the History of Medicine.
  • Sivaramakrishnan, K. (2014). Aging and Dependency in a Young Indian Nation: Migrant Families, Workers and Social Experts (1940-60). Journal of Social HistoryView abstract.
  • Sivaramakrishnan, K. & Parker, R. (2012). The UN Noncommunicable Diseases Summit: A Missed Opportunity? Policy Perspective, American Journal of Public HealthView abstract.
  • Fairchild, A. & Bayer, R. (2011). Guiding Principles on Ethical Issues in HIV Surveillance. Geneva: WHO, 2011. View abstract. (This document was printed in all of the official languages of the United Nations). 
  • Sivaramakrishnan, K. (2011). The Return of Epidemics and the Politics of Global-Local Health. The American Journal of Public HealthView abstract.
  • Bayer, R. & Edington, C. (2009). HIV Testing, Human Rights, and Global AIDS Policy: Exceptionalism and Its Discontents. Journal of Health PoliticsView abstract.
  • Sivaramakrishnan, K. (2008). The Languages of Science, the Vocabulary of Politics: Challenges to Medical Revival in Punjab. Journal for Social History of Medicine, OxfordView abstract.
  • G. Oppenheimer, R. Bayer. (2007). Shattered Dreams?: An Oral History of the South African AIDS Epidemic. Oxford University PressView abstract.
  • Sivaramakrishnan, K. (2006). Constructing Boundaries, Contesting Identities: Politics of Ayurved in Punjab. Studies in History. View abstract.
  • Sivaramakrishnan, K. (2006). Old Potions, New Bottles: Recasting Indigenous Medicine in Colonial Punjab. New Perspectives on the History of Medicine and Environment in South Asia, Orient LongmanView abstract.
  • E. Feldman, R. Bayer (2004). Unfiltered: Conflicts Over Tobacco Policy and Public Health. Harvard University Press. View abstract.