Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Boundary-spanning: reflections on the practices and principles of Global Health
  1. Kabir Sheikh1,
  2. Helen Schneider2,3,
  3. Irene Akua Agyepong4,
  4. Uta Lehmann2,
  5. Lucy Gilson5,6
  1. 1Public Health Foundation of India, New Delhi, India
  2. 2University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
  3. 3SAMRC/UWC Health Services to Systems Research Unit, Cape Town, South Africa
  4. 4Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate, Ghana Health Service, Accra, Greater Accra Region, Ghana
  5. 5University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  6. 6London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kabir Sheikh; kabir.sheikh{at}


As Global Health evolves, not merely as a metaphor for international collaboration, but as a distinct field of practice, it warrants greater consideration of how it is practiced, by whom, and for what goals. We believe that, to become more relevant for the health systems and communities that are their intended beneficiaries, Global Health practices must actively span and disrupt boundaries of geography, geopolitics and constituency, some of which are rooted in imbalances of power and resources. In this process, fostering cross-country learning networks and communities of practice, and building local and national institutions with a global outlook in low and middle-income countries, are critically important. Crucially, boundary-spanning practices in Global Health require a mindset of inclusiveness, awareness of and respect for different coexisting realities.

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.