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Religion as a Social Determinant of Public Health$
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Ellen L. Idler

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199362202

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199362202.001.0001

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Religion and Global Health

Religion and Global Health

20 Religion and Global Health
Religion as a Social Determinant of Public Health

Peter J. Brown

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the relationship between religion, religion-based institutions, and the field of global health. Its focus is primarily on Christian faith-based organizations and low-resource settings. It makes a distinction between religious motivations for individual’s global health activities and the work of religion-based health care institutions. The chapter reviews the development of the field of global health from its origins in international health during the Cold War; the chapter also explores the legacy of nineteenth-century medical missionaries and the contemporary phenomenon of short-term medical missions. A virtual explosion of funding from governmental and philanthropic sources in response to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals and the HIV/AIDS epidemic has brought faith-based organizations into sometimes contentious partnerships with secular nongovernmental organizations. The chapter contends that, while there may be justifiable wariness on both sides, global public health efforts could benefit from increased partnerships with the faith-based sector.

Keywords:   global health, religion, Christian, missionaries, short-term medical missions, Millennium Development Goals, HIV/AIDS, faith-based organizations, nongovernmental organizations, international health

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