The roles of the citizen sector in health and public health

Authored by: Paul Gaist , Victoria Chau

Routledge Handbook of NGOs and International Relations

Print publication date:  April  2019
Online publication date:  April  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138285507
eBook ISBN: 9781315268927
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315268927-22

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Abstract

There is a moral imperative to alleviate human suffering, regardless of where it occurs. Unfortunately, while understood and appreciated by most, all too often that call to action goes unheeded. This can be due to lack of awareness or objectively collected data; competing interests and priorities; limited resources; perceived lack of solutions; and/or even deliberate negligence and denial. All too often the suffering not only continues, it spreads and is perpetuated. This human strife and suffering often is a product of many health and public health challenges in the world today. Left unabated, unaddressed, such challenges generally will not improve; they will continue and exacerbate, leading to even more crisis, suffering, and consequence. We do not have to look any further than the recent outbreaks of Ebola, Zika, war, and violence in many parts of the world; water contamination and other environmental health threats near and wide; drug and alcohol addictions; and more – and they all happen “somewhere” – in communities, villages, towns, cities, countries, often coupled with the fear and possibility of local and global threat and devastation. Yet there is much to be hopeful about, in no small part the important and primary roles that community-based organisations (CBOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) take on and serve in the vanguard, pushing back against these local and global challenges, both now and in the future. NGOs and CBOs are a growing force in public health and provide voice to the community; they act both directly and indirectly on public health through addressing social determinants of health, and they are showing the way forward as they improve their tools and approaches and innovate through partnerships and strategic planning.

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