Patrick Anyadi (Winner) – Why is Global Health important and how is it taught in medical school?

Patrick Anyadi profile picturePatrick Anyadi 

Winner of the Manchester Global Health Competition 2014.

Patrick is a second year medical student at Manchester Medical School and comes  from a small town just north of London called Stevenage. He strongly believes global health education will improve healthcare systems around the world to provide better outcomes for patients. 

With significant advances in areas of technology and transport over the past century, interconnection within the human race has increased. Globalisation means that nations are now more dependent upon one another than ever before.

Globalisation of course also applies to disease and ill health, which affects populations in all countries, regardless of economic development. Global health focuses on health issues that transcend national boundaries. They provide opportunities for collaboration between countries and a multidisciplinary, international approach is the most effective way to deal with them.

There are serious consequences when the international community fails to respond appropriately to global health issues. A recent example of this is the Ebola crisis. The current outbreak originated in Guinea, located in West Africa. The initial response or lack thereof by governments from around the world has done little to stop rapid spread of the virus. The most powerful states initially failed to send financial and other support to fight the disease, causing avoidable suffering and death.

Global health is important because it allows countries to learn from one another, thereby improving the health of their citizens. Measures such as mortality rate, life expectancy, and access to primary care provide an indication of how well a healthcare system is working. Studying the factors that account for the differences between the best and the worst healthcare systems can help to construct a set of principles to improve the health of all people around the world.

I believe that medical students often become too fixated with the details of biomedicine and clinical practice. The details are important but do not provide students with an awareness of the complexities and wider context of healthcare in the ‘real world’.

I believe that it is imperative to make global health a part of the medical school curriculum. A partial solution would be to integrate global health issues into our PBL cases and intended learning outcomes. However, I believe that this would allow student to overlook the subject.

A better way to teach global health would be through the use of case studies. Each week the class could be assigned different areas within the field to study. For example, one week the class could focus on communicable disease. A current topic within this area would then be decided on by the group. The class would then go away and read a variety of books, news articles and papers on the topic.

At the end of the week the class could be tested by writing a two-page essay or giving a 10 minute presentation. This would also give students the opportunity to improve vital literary skills. Students could meet to discuss and debate the week’s topic in sessions led by medical students intercalating in global health.

Through the University of Manchester’s large network of contacts that work in the field of global health, seminars and lectures relevant to the week’s topic could be arranged with experts from around the world and those that work within the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre.

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