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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Linda M Kaste, DDS, MS, PhD (University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry)
Description: This ambitious book aims to be a comprehensive introduction to global health and, while it is intended for any interested healthcare practitioner, it is largely medicine-focused and oriented towards physicians and nurses. This edition is the first written by these three authors; the two previous editions were written by the late Paul F. Basch. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu contributes the foreword.
Purpose: The purpose is reflected upon in the preface and expanded upon in the introduction. The considerable explanation of the purpose and the context for the book is needed because of the breadth of material that is covered. In the preface, the authors note, "this third edition is part primer and part analytic tool for the international health practitioners to use to better understand the social, political, and economic systems that contribute to the state of health of a nation, a city, a village, and the world as a whole." The authors acknowledge the challenges of this extensive objective and conclude by saying, "we believe that any international health practitioner (novice or not) will find something useful in this textbook." They are successful in covering a wide array of issues, which are very important with much of the world being in transition, but are subject to the limitations of a book that attempts to cover a vast and constantly moving field. The book's chapters and appendix of websites aim to address the need for updating beyond this provision of historic and current context. One concern with the dynamic nature of the field is the authors' use of a definition of public health that is infectious disease-based and is about 90 years old. The use of this definition reinforces the physician-nurse orientation of the book.
Audience: The introduction is used to present key definitions and the outline of the book, as well as to clarify the purpose for the intended audience: "This textbook is designed for a semester-long advanced undergraduate or first-year graduate course." Understanding this intent helps all readers relate to the comprehensive nature of the book. The authors have complementary backgrounds and experiences and identify themselves as "a South-North/East-West/underdeveloped-developed/local-transnational/female-male/academic-practitioner/government-NGO affiliated crew."
Features: The book provides excellent historic insight into international health. Very powerful observations result from the orientation to infrastructure and economics. The content builds upon traditional issues such as environmental to healthcare systems, implementation, and working in international health. Use of graphics and tables is limited and in black and white, but they are enlightening. Text boxes augment chapter discussions, as do a series of provocative questions in the introductory chapter and key questions at the beginning of each chapter.
Assessment: This book is an appropriate consideration for an introductory text on international health. It provides the opportunity to gain a scholarly (but very readable) overview on a wide range of issues in international health. It reflects extensive work by the authors and is largely based on material that was not available at the time of the previous edition. Another introductory book is Essentials of Global Health, Skolnik (Jones and Bartlett, 2008). The two books are similar in their definition of public health that reflects the historic definition and medical/physician/nurse orientation, but they differ in appearance and tone. The Textbook is laid out in a more scholarly fashion, with chapters addressing big picture issues in international health such as health agencies, political economy, health under crisis, toward healthy societies, and doing international health. Essentials is laid out in a more public health and applied manner, with chapters grouped around topical areas such as ethics, culture, women's health, communicable disease, noncommunicable disease, and unintentional injury.