GHF2008 – PS16 – Global Health Education in Action

Session Outline

Parallel session PS16, Tuesday, May 27 2008, 11:00-12:30, Room 17
Chair(s): Syed Al Junid, Professor of Health Economics and consultant for public health medicine, United Nations University-International Institute of Global Health, Malaysia, Antoine Hadengue, Head, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospitals of Geneva, Switzerland
People’s Movements for Health: Activist Practice and Learning Needs
Hani Serag, Global Secretariat Coordinator, People’s Health Movement, Egypt 
Academic Involvement in Global Health: Synergy with United Nations in Millennium Development Goal Education
Kendall Ho, Associate Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Canada
‘Community-Based Learning: A Foundation for Better Health’ - Experiences from BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan, Nepal
Prahlad Karki, Professor and Head Department of Internal Medicine, B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Nepal  

Session Documents

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Session Report

Submitted by: Kate Brown (ICVolunteers)

This session focused on the importance of education and training in providing health care for all. The speakers reflected on their experiences of providing training in different contexts, pointing out the importance of integrating rather than marginalizing a focus on the needs of communities, and the enthusiasm that such an approach can stir in students, the 'professionals of the future'.

Opening the session, Professor Syed Al Junid, United Nations University International Institute of Global Health, Malaysia, and Antoine Hadengue, University Hospital of Geneva, introduced the four speakers.

The People's Health Movement (PHM) is a world-wide network built on the understanding that global health justice depends on social movement pressure as well as good policy and professional practice. The PHM's International People's Health University (IPHU), founded in 2004, strengthens such health movements through short course trainings for health activists around the world. The development of a curriculum for this training includes consideration of content, the balanced selection of participants, the appointment of faculty members, teaching and learning methods and post-course activities. Hani Serag, Global Secretariat Coordinator of the PHM, pointed to the need to build on the positive and accumulating experience of the IPHU by sustaining and institutionalizing their work.

Professor Kendall Ho, from the University of British Columbia (UBC) posed the question "How can academia optimally contribute to global health?" He believes that academia can make significant contributions through unique skill sets: translating evidence to action, transmitting knowledge to others, transforming through research and evaluation, and through these actions transcending suffering towards hope. One important path is ensuring the social accountability of medical schools; going beyond the training of medically competent doctors to contribute to the needs of the communities around them. Professor Ho gave the example of UBC's collaboration with Universitas 21, a consortium of universities sharing a common vision of contributing academically to the global health agenda. This alliance is working to create a curriculum on the UN Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) to enable health professional students to understand and live the MDGs.

Founded in 1993, the BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences aims to improve the health status of the people of Nepal by providing holistic health care through training, service and research. Prahlad Karki, Professor and Head Departement of Internal Medicine, focused on the Institute's experience of community-based learning, which runs throughout their training courses. 50% of students' time is devoted to learning in the community, including activities such as an orientation week, the study of health care delivery systems including the work of NGOs and international organizations, and an internship programme. Through such training, students obtain knowledge, skills and good practice approaches when contacting community residents, and experience to help meet primary health care needs.

Rachelle Saadeh explained that the Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) offers emergency medical services to all Lebanese people, through 44 centres across the country and 2,600 trained volunteers. First Aid teams respond to emergencies of a wide variety, including road accidents and health emergencies in the home. LRC is also involved in transportation (people, blood units and food) and plays an important role in providing medical aid in political conflicts. In 2007 the LRC was involved in 177,053 missions. 2007 saw a new work strategy for the LRC, including a focus on training and a new strategy to standardize training and to train all volunteers.

Much of the general discussion focused around the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). A 2005 UN survey showed that less than 10% of academic institutions were aware of the MDGs. It was recognized that diffusion of such information takes time, and that a critical mass of change agents is needed, through individual efforts and partnership collaborations. To educate people, it is crucial to link the MDGs to specific issues relevant to the target audience. Champions and leaders are also needed, both amongst students and staff and in international organizations.

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