Advancing the appropriate use of Design in Global Health contexts


The use of design in global health can improve current practices and foster innovative solutions.

Significant progress has been made in global health. Child and maternal mortality are declining, and life expectancy is on the rise. However, as the Sustainable Development Goals illustrate, more progress is needed. By improving current practices and developing innovative solutions, we can build upon today’s momentum and accelerate progress.

Global health practitioners have asked for guidance to increase the understanding, use, and value of design as an approach to addressing global health challenges. We recognize that there may be uncertainty around the design approach, thus we have created a set of resources to clarify its potential based on questions we’ve heard from global health practitioners.

A woman uses paper cards as another woman looks on

Image courtesy of Catapult Design

Birdseye view of a game of snakes and ladders with people's hands pointing towards it

Image courtesy of Catapult Design


The application of design in global health has not yet reached its full potential.

Design has often been used as a spark or an ingredient to ‘fix’ a product or service. Its impact would be greater if design was incorporated from the start in a program cycle. To this end, in 2017 the United States Agency for International Development’s Center for Innovation and Impact and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation first convened a group of global health experts and designers to reflect on the application of design in global health.

That first group has grown, and as a wider community has worked together, to co-create a vision and roadmap to amplify the impact of design in global health by increasing its understanding, use and value.


Global health practitioners of all levels of experience with design.

We co-created the resources available on this website in conversation with representatives from the global health community.  Five types of users (or profiles) emerged that represent the different stages of a global health practitioner in his/her path towards adoption and implementation of design in his/her work. Which of the profiles do you fit into?

Illustrations of 5 Design for Health profiles