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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Global Studies Research Guide

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Topics in Global Health

"Caring is fundamental to individual and community flourishing and needs to be seen in the larger global context of human life on the planet and its current and future challenges. Aging is best viewed as a lifelong process and care as a reciprocal activity amongst different generations at a societal level and among individuals interpersonally. Whereas global aging and environmental deterioration may not seem interrelated, how we care for the elderly, as well as children and the environment, in the future will affect not only our ethical legacy, but also the viability of our species. Global aging and environment are linked through the growth of our population, especially the number of elders, and human impact on our planet, particularly global warming and environmental deterioration." 

Whitehouse, Peter J. "Future of Care." In The Encyclopedia of Elder Care, by Elizabeth Capezuti. 4th ed. Springer Publishing Company, 2017. 


"While the political role of age groups and generations has been of considerable interest to sociologists, the general area of social aging was neglected by the mainstream of sociology until the late 1960s. Current interest in aging and gerontology has been stimulated by the growing proportion of the aged in the population of industrialized societies and by public concern with the aged as a social problem. Societies such as the USA, Canada, Britain, Germany, Italy and Japan are classified by the United Nations as ‘old’ because more than 7 per cent of their population is over 65 years of age. ‘Mature’ countries, with 4-7 per cent over 65 years, include Brazil, South Africa and Turkey. ‘Young’ countries, with less than 4 per cent, include Egypt, India and Mexico. In Britain, people past retiring age (women over 60 and men over 65) increased as a percentage of the population from 6.8 in 1911 to 18.2 in 1998. Social policy towards retirement has had a dramatic effect on the labour force participation rates for the elderly. At the beginning of the century, 67 per cent of men over 65 years were still employed; by the late 1990s, about 7 per cent were employed. With the growth of pensions and early-retirement schemes, it has been argued that the elderly constitute an economic burden on the community. The ‘burden of dependency’ as a ratio is calculated as those not eligible for employment (young people below working age and those past the age of retirement) over the working population. As this dependency ratio increases, it is thought that as the century progresses the elderly will constitute a considerable brake on economic growth for many advanced industrial societies."

"aging." In The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology, by Nicholas Abercrombie, Stephen Hill, and Bryan S. Turner. 5th ed. Penguin, 2006.


"Reproductive health encompasses the physical capability to reproduce—that is to conceive (or cause a conception to occur), to carry a pregnancy safely to term, and to bear a healthy child—and the internationally recognized right to decide “freely and responsibly” if, when, and how often to do so. It also encompasses the ability to have a safe, voluntary, and satisfying sex life; the right to know about and use effective methods of fertility regulation of one's choice; and the right to obtain quality reproductive and sexual health care. Core services include voluntary family planning (contraception and safe abortion); the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of sexually transmitted infections and infertility; comprehensive maternal and newborn care; and education, information, and legal, social, and health services related to sexual‐ and gender‐based violence and other problems. The United Nations declares that everyone has the right to the highest attainable standard of reproductive health."

"The challenges for the future are many. Millions of women and girls, primarily in low‐ and middle‐income countries, do not yet have access to the core services package envisioned by feminists and endorsed by the ICPD, nor are their sexual and reproductive rights fully protected. There is also need for the refinement of indicators to track reproductive and sexual health and rights for women, men, and adolescents living in diverse circumstances; for improved systems for data collection and analysis; and for the systematic compilation of evidence on the most effective strategies for reducing specific reproductive and sexual health risks and for protecting individual rights in different settings. Filling these gaps requires not only financing, but also normative changes in societies to recognize and protect the human rights of girls and women. Strengthening and maintaining the political will to secure the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all persons is thus essential and will require sustained and skillful advocacy." 

Dixon‐Mueller, Ruth, and Adrienne Germain. "Reproductive health." In The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality, edited by Patricia Whelehan, and Anne Bolin. Wiley, 2015.


"Securing adequate food supplies and necessary nutrition is a global concern. The production, distribution, and consumption of food are matters that concern governments, corporations, and individuals everywhere. The enormous growth in the population of the world, from about 3 billion people to over 6 billion between the end of World War II and the end of the century has captured the attention of many scientists. The projection that by 2050 there may be twelve billion people in the world raises the need for nutrition to high levels of concern. To feed adequately the billions of people currently living and soon to be born means that whole resources are needed to supply the food people need.... The problem of malnourishment is not a problem of an inadequate supply of food on a global basis, it is a distribution problem. The poor, especially in the third world, could have food directly supplied to them by wealthier nations. However, this would destroy the local markets and local farmers. More commonly the misdistribution of food is due to exploitation of the population by local elites, unscrupulous merchants, or by local warlords....Malnourishment adds to the fragility of the health of people. Without an adequate diet, they become vulnerable to diseases. Some of these are preventable nutrition deficiency diseases."

Waskey, Andrew J. "Nutrition." In Encyclopedia of Global Health, by Yawei Zhang. Sage Publications, 2008.

"Each year, it is estimated that millions of people around the world, disenfranchised by the restrictive national laws and unresponsive health systems in their countries of residence, circumvent these barriers by traveling to countries where their desired medical treatment is more accessible to them. Over the last decade, mainstream media coverage in patients’ source and receiving countries alike has come to commonly describe these international flows of patients as “medical tourists.” As such, treatment-specific phrases like “abortion tourism,” “fertility tourism,” “stem cell tourism,” “pharmaceutical tourism,” and even “euthanasia tourism” abound in reporting and discussions about people pursuing recognition of their medical wishes and care abroad. Yet, while the term “medical tourism” has gained significant traction in the popular press and among government and industry actors around the globe, numerous scholars over the last decade—echoing the voices of traveling patients themselves—have argued that the term “tourism,” given its everyday associations with pleasure and frivolity, not only inadequately captures but also actively effaces patients’ pain, desperation, and determination." 

Ormond, Meghann. "International Medical Travel or Medical Tourism." In International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, edited by Audrey Kobayashi. 2nd ed. Elsevier Science & Technology, 2020.