Staying healthy is considered an ultimate goal for a sustainable life while healthcare is one of the most basic and fundamental needs of human beings. Across the globe, people enjoy various levels of health. At the same time, people suffer from different degrees of challenges to health and wellbeing. Social factors, such as socioeconomic status, education, neighbourhood and physical environment, and employment, determine our health and the possibility to access adequate health care. Global health matters, including social factors and policies, affect our health and healthcare practice on a daily base.

While Global Health has been heavily concerned in academic work and in the practice, most discussions are based on Western-oriented knowledge. The knowledge often overlooks the experience of the rest of our world. Taking the Asia Pacific as an example, this region is home close to 60% of the world’s population and consists of countries with diverse health care, ecosystems, sophistication, and maturity. In the last decades, the substantial economic growth of Asia Pacific and other developing countries has allowed the healthcare system to transform into various practices.

Most populations of our world nowadays generally accept modern Western medicine as the treatment for mental and physical diseases. Nonetheless, many individual members of our societies still rely on 'cultural healing practices' in everyday life. Throughout history, all cultures and societies have developed practices associated with beliefs and attitudes that support and cultivate individual well-being and social harmony. These practices and attitudes are part of our cultural heritage, shaping the relationship between people and with themselves. However, researchers often overlook or ignore the importance of cultural healing and its dimension of the right balance with the self, society, and the environment in the context of our polyethnic societies or states.

Can we learn from wisdom about health and well-being that has been practised from the novel experiences of countries around the world or those reserved in diverse cultures?

Dr Cha-Hsuan Liu initiates a research network of ‘Global Health Matters’ with a group of researchers and healthcare professionals across borders. Their discussions on global health matters are being published as columns on IIAS Blogs. With the network members, Dr Liu is working on interpreting knowledge of health and wellbeing and mapping the possibilities for research projects within the IIAS Cultural Heritages research theme. She is currently an associate professor and senior lecturer in public health, healthcare administration, education and youth, and migration/minority study at various international universities.