11/19/2013 11:19 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Global Health is People Health

Global Health.

What a difficult term to digest. How many people do you know who are able to breakdown this term in less than 30 minutes? To be honest, chances are that if you do know such people, then you must be one of them yourself.

My co-fellow in the Global Health Corps fellowship program, Aaron Gale, even agrees with me that it's a difficult term to break down. Just the word "global" can start an argument these days.

So, then, how about we start by replacing it with the word "people."


People Health. You and me and health.


Health is an easy word because, no matter your background, everyone knows how it feels to be healthy, and everyone also knows how it feels to be un-healthy. When you are healthy, life's a peach. When you are not so healthy, things can quickly deteriorate.

Just last year, Aaron received a call while at work informing him his father Jerry's heart had stopped. In the blink of an eye, a perfectly healthy, fit-as-a-fiddle man keeled over at his desk, his life slipping away. It was an absolutely frightening ordeal for their entire family. Yet a week later, after a tumultuous hospital stay and an implanted defibrillator for his troubles, Mr. Gale was back home with his family.

And this is the thing about health; it's not a permanent state of being. Thankfully for Mr. Gale, this happened while he was in an environment where help was on hand when he needed it most. His coworkers immediately began CPR until paramedics arrived, and from there he was taken directly to a cardiac intensive care unit. Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone because, sadly, the world is not equal.

For many middle-aged men back in Kenya, collapsing in a public place does not necessarily mean swift action, nor does it mean that appropriate care will be available. In fact, in many places in the world, people like you and me die of curable diseases, simply because the nearest hospital is a day's travel on foot. Many more die because even if they are in the right environment to get care, such as a hospital or clinic, the caregivers simply don't have the necessary skills.

It's a sad reality that though all of us have an equal desire to be healthy, only some of us actually have an opportunity to get the services and medication to keep us healthy. I know that once I make a statement like that, the easy suggestion is to find money to throw at the problem. And neither Aaron nor I disagree with that. Still, though it is great to send money, it's better to send people.


People can help solve other people's problems. This is especially true in health. When one person engages enough in another person's health problems, solutions become easier to find. It was people that saved my co-fellow's father's life.

So what's the point?

Healthy people everywhere.

That's the goal and that's what brings a Kenyan Musician and a brilliant scientist from LA together. It's the same thing that made the other 104 fellows apply to join the Global Health Corps this year. Last year, there were only 90 fellows. This year there are 106. Next year there will be more. More people, trying to engage and create a movement. It is people who are working to improve health equity as Global Health Corps fellows.

So does one need to be a doctor to be a part of this? Nope. You just need to be a person. A person who wants to be healthy and wishes the same for others

Global Health.

Global Health Corps selects fellows with diverse skill sets ranging from art to architecture to engineering. Applications are now open for the sixth class of Global Health Corps fellows. If you, like me and my co-fellow Aaron, are passionate about making an impact in global health, we encourage you to apply for a fellowship in Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, or the United States.

To apply for a 2014-2015 Fellowship, please visit All applicants must be 30 years or younger, have earned an undergraduate university degree by July 2014, and be proficient in English. Applications close on January 26.