What you'll learn

  • Develop an action plan to implement health interventions in your particular context
  • Use a biosocial framework to assess how biological and social factors influence the spread of disease
  • Understand the restrictions and challenges facing healthcare delivery

Course description

Access to healthcare is the greatest challenge in effectively managing and improving global health delivery. 

The Global Health Delivery online short course from Harvard's Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning (VPAL) provides you with an introduction to the biggest factors impacting health and disease management, in both emerging and established nations. Over 10 weeks, you’ll examine real-world case studies from around the globe to investigate approaches to fighting Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and MDR-TB, and understand the burden of mental health. Guided by industry experts, you’ll explore the roles that foreign aid and governing structures play in facilitating healthcare solutions and assess how ideologies, problem framing, and the choice of metrics shape health policy. Learn how to build your own global health intervention for implementation across public and private settings.

Course outline

  • Introduction to the biosocial
  • Why ideas matter: Social theory in global health
  • The history of global health and colonial legacy
  • Political economy and foreign aid
  • The global AIDS movement
  • Challenges in healthcare delivery: Lessons from Liberia and Haiti
  • Building an effective rural health delivery model in Rwanda
  • Critical perspectives on metrics of disease
  • The unique challenges of mental health
  • Values and global health


  • Kolokotrones University Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School
  • Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School
  • Esther and Sidney Rabb Professor, Anthropology Department; Victor and William Fung Director, Asia Center, Harvard University; Professor of Medical Anthropology, Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School
  • Associate Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard University; Director, Harvard Medical School Center for Global Health Delivery – Dubai
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