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Institute of Evolutionary Medicine (IEM)

Global health from an evolutionary perspective

Summary of Research

Global health aims at improving well-being for all people worldwide by promoting health and reducing avoidable diseases, disability, and death. Relevant problems are upcoming pandemics of infectious diseases, the worldwide increase of non-communicable diseases, access to health care for everyone, etc. Some of the most important health goals are included in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs), such as reducing maternal, neonatal and child mortality, as well as avoiding deaths from a variety of communicable and non-communicable diseases. To achieve these goals, it is essential not only to know variation of human traits between and within populations, as well as infectious disease dynamics, but also to understand obstacles and barriers that lay in human behaviours and attitudes. These attitudes are explainable by evolutionary principles, but there is still a lack of knowledge on specific evolutionary aspects and constraints influencing human behaviour and health with respect to the overall understanding of global health in general, and the development of effective strategies in particular. 

In our research we analyse the SDGs from an evolutionary point of view. We aim to find evolutionary explanations for the human reluctance to share common goods, or for the human difficulty to understand concepts like very large numbers, time scales or exponential growth curves. We formulate evolutionary founded hints for possible solutions for such problems.


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