Improvements to medical practice and delivery of treatment has been the focus of many international collaborations aiming to address the global burden of disease. Delivering appropriate health care, as well as implementation of research in low-and-middle-income countries, is compounded by resource allocation issues. Vulnerable populations continue to be seriously affected by non-communicable and infectious diseases including neglected tropical diseases, while complications during pregnancy and childbirth in these regions leave mothers and infants at risk of severe disability or death. These are ethical as well as medical problems, as many of these outcomes are preventable. To focus on the public health initiatives, the development of health care policies and evidence-based guidelines, in addition to research into the control and treatment of diseases, BMC Medicine has launched an article collection on Medicine for Global Health.