Former President Jimmy Carter took to social media to address the importance of global health this week. After engaging in online discussion with APHA’s Google+ public health community over the past several days, Carter held a live video chat on the social media platform Tuesday.

“Anyone who cares about basic human rights knows that one of the fundamental human rights is a right to good health — as well as the right to life, to freedom, to a place to live and food to eat,” Carter said during the chat known as a “hangout.”


Joined by New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof and Carter Center disease eradication expert Donald Hopkins, they discussed the importance of addressing global health issues, particularly highlighting the positive return on investment that focusing on global health could offer.

“Global health touches the life, not only of people who are afflicted with unnecessary diseases, but also, it touches the life of people who are still healthy and want to prevent those diseases from coming to us and also do benevolent things for those in need. The return on investment spent on improving global health is enormous,” Carter said. “Any time the rich country can help bring better global health to poor countries, the dividends are enormous.”

Two members of APHA’s Google+ public health community were invited to participate. One inquired about the role of the next generation in addressing global health issues and how to be prepared. Kristof responded by noting the importance of adequately focusing on progress and the success stories of global health, while Carter emphasized the communal advantages of social media that allow more people to be connected and share experiences.

A second participant inquired about the ways to improve women’s rights internationally, particularly as they relate to access to health care. Carter noted the problem of abuse and derogation of women’s rights and yet the important role women play in addressing global health issues.

“There’s no silver bullet here, but there is, in sense, a silver buckshot,” said Kristof. “And any time you go and empower women in myriad of ways, you have an impact on their health outcomes.”

Throughout the week leading up to the video chat, Kristof and Carter addressed many perspectives of global health by posing questions to APHA’s public health community. The conversation, which gathered perspectives on potential economic solutions, methods to prioritize issues and effective use of resources, strived to tackle some of global health’s difficult and complex issues and concerns.

“If people can fully recognize the cyclical relationship between lack of education, poor health (in all forms), and a low economy, maybe they’d be more willing and eager to make changes,” one participant wrote.

Carter’s nonprofit organization, the Carter Center, has championed major advances in global health, including the near-elimination of Guinea worm disease.

The Google+ Conversation was developed by the Carter Center and launched the start of the new Google+ Conversations speaker series by the social media platform. View the video chat in its entirety on Google+.