by David Foster
During the last few decades, as global health has grown in complexity, its compassionate roots have become threatened by commercial, institutional and political agendas, the need to justify programs in economic terms, and a focus on efficiency in delivering public health “products” to “consumers.” In addition, many in global health now work for large organizations, often at great geographic and cultural distances from those they seek to serve. In the secular settings that characterize much global health work today, global health workers do not speak of compassion or the shared spiritual values that once motivated and sustained them. As a result, they can feel isolated and disconnected from each other and from the very people they are trying to help.
When this happens, global health is diminished. Rediscovering compassion at its core can reinvigorate global health, provide a sense of meaning and connection for those who work in this field, and empower them to connect more deeply, at an intellectual and emotional level, with those they seek to serve. It can also drive the highest level global health science and action, enabling the field to reach its full potential.
“When compassion is lost, the action that it inspired can begin to wane, lose its focus, become burdensome, or perhaps cease altogether through burnout. We believe that by bringing compassion back into our awareness and into the center of our discourse, global health students, professionals, and leaders at all levels will experience renewed commitment and an invigorated sense of purpose.” – Julie Hliboki
CCAGH strives to address this need by bringing compassion back into the center of global health discourse. We convene global health leaders, conduct seminars and retreats for global health workers, and speak at global health and scientific conferences. We plan to expand this work to develop educational curricula, conduct interdisciplinary research, and publish articles in the lay and professional literature.