Utah Valley Global Health Group

A blog about global health for those living in Utah Valley and their friends.

Family-Based Global Health by Elise Best

Posted by benjamincrookston on April 11, 2008

This past week I had opportunity to attend the first annual Mother, Child, and Newborn Health Conference at Brigham Young University. I was impressed with the breadth of the topics covered at this conference, but was especially intrigued by the concept of family-based initiatives that are currently being implemented in the Americas under the supervision of PAHO.

As the family unit serves as a place of learning and setting behaviors that will persist throughout time, it seems only natural to target families as a whole when trying to improve health behaviors among a population. It is within the bonds of a family, regardless of situation, that crucial health behaviors are molded and perpetuated whether for better or worse. Looking at a family as a whole, rather than targeting individuals, would seem a logical approach to cultivate improved health situations in communities across the globe.

As these family-based health initiatives are showing great success and promise in developing countries, the possibility of implementing the same types of initiatives here in the United States should be taken into consideration. In a country where focus is largely placed on the individual, an attempt to shift focus to the family unit and its potential influence on developing and sustaining healthy behaviors could prove to have great impacts on improving health conditions not only globally, but here in the United States as well.

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2 Responses to “Family-Based Global Health by Elise Best”

  1. chads said

    I, too enjoyed the BYU conference, Elise, and was also intrigued by the idea of focusing global health interventions on families. Having said that, I’m not really clear what “family-based interventions means.”

    For me, many questions remain: What is the current evidence base? What about the large percentage of incomplete (or non-existent) families in developing countries (esp. Sub-Saharan Africa)?

  2. Dave said

    Sounds like a good conference, definitely an area where BYU, of all universities, should put their efforts.

    Here are three examples of family-based interventions that have been elected as Ashoka Fellows, where I currently work:

    http://ashoka.org/node/2457

    http://ashoka.org/node/2879

    http://ashoka.org/node/3202

    I think it’s great to see their ideas being picked up as national policy.

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