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Local experts have worldwide impact thanks to the state’s academic, government, nonprofit and industry leadership in health-focused fields

What is Global Health?

Global health is a cross-disciplinary field that promotes collective solutions to improving health, reducing health disparities, and protecting against global threats to health. Global health activities are wide-ranging, from raising awareness and funding for specific health conditions to developing and testing new treatments, disease-specific research, and improving access to safe drinking water. North Carolina has a robust community of global health organizations – nonprofits, for-profits, academic institutions, and government agencies – that respond, research, and develop products to respond to immediate concerns and improve the health of the world’s communities.

In recognition of the need to have a dedicated organization devoted to advancing global health collaboration in North Carolina, Duke University, North Carolina State University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, IntraHealth International, RTI International, FHI360 and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center founded the North Carolina Global Health Alliance in 2009. Our mission is to advance North Carolina as an international center for global health research, training, education, program implementation, advocacy and business dedicated to improving the health of the world's communities. The recent COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for coordinated national and international responses to public health threats.

Global Health Organizations as an Economic Engine

In addition to improving human and planetary health, global health organizations can serve as an important economic engine for North Carolina. A recent NC Global Health Alliance report found that there are more than 900 global health organizations, which sustain more than 56,000 jobs. For each job at a global health organization, another two jobs are supported through business and employee spending in the local economy. Global health jobs are clustered in the scientific research and development and pharmaceutical manufacturing industries. North Carolina’s global health organizations attract substantial research funding. In 2021, more than $2.6 billion in health research funding came to North Carolina from external sources such as federal agencies and nonprofits, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Expanding Global Health Initiatives in North Carolina

In the near future, North Carolina will have even more opportunities to develop and expand global health initiatives. Last month, a statewide coalition of public and private partner organizations and institutions, led by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, received a $25 million award from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge. These funds will strengthen North Carolina's life sciences manufacturing cluster by expanding, connecting, and promoting training and career opportunities to underserved and distressed communities. This effort is essential to get more North Carolinians on the path toward economic prosperity.

The recent creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) presents North Carolina with another opportunity to expand its global health footprint. ARPA-H is a new federal agency housed within the National Institutes of Health that received $1 billion in inaugural funding from Congress. Its mission is to improve the U.S. government’s ability to harness recent advancements in biomedical and health sciences to prevent, detect and treat a range of diseases including cancer, infectious diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and many others that affect large numbers of people around the globe. Already, leaders from public and private universities, businesses, nonprofits, trade associations and state government are working diligently to bring the new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health headquarters to North Carolina. We fully support this effort, and the exciting research ARPA-H will pursue in the future.

Along with the related fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and scientific research, global health is a mainstay of North Carolina’s economic and academic landscape. This fall, the preeminent experts in North Carolina’s global health community will gather for the 2022 NC Global Health Annual Conference. Thought leaders, innovators, policymakers, students and researchers with an interest in global health are invited to attend and join in the discussion of the impact of global health programs and organizations.

Are we actually making a difference? Are our programs and services having the individual, social, economic and political impacts that are needed today? Working in global health, we address these questions every day. The conference brings us a chance to network and learn from others, as we strive to create a healthier world at the individual, community, and global levels.

Worldwide Impact

Our global health experts partner with governments, local organizations, universities, service providers, and communities to strengthen health systems and combat infectious and noncommunicable diseases.

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Disclaimer: This piece was written by Sara Nienow (Research Economist) and Andre Anthony to share perspectives on a topic of interest. Expression of opinions within are those of the author or authors.