Global Health; adjective \ˈglō-bəl\ noun, often attributive \ˈhelth\
An area for study, research, and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide. Global health emphasizes transnational health issues, determinants, and solutions; involves many disciplines within and beyond the health sciences and promotes interdisciplinary collaboration; and is a synthesis of population-based prevention with individual-level clinical care. – Expert Panel on Canada’s Strategic Role in Global Health
This thoughtful and comprehensive definition of the vary subject that brought together students, academics, health and allied-health workers, government and non-government organizations and the private sector, came alive throughout the course of the 21st annual Canadian Conference on Global Health, in Ottawa (Nov 1-4, 2014).
A Student and Young Professional Summit was hosted leading up to the main event, creating a space for the fledgling leaders in global health to engage those who have gone before them, speaking on the incredible opportunities and challenges of working in global health, perspectives from the field, and practical information for launching a career in global health – irrespective of degrees. The event also featured a simulated humanitarian aid intervention as the result of a natural disaster in a politically complex situation. Students were assigned roles as key players and allowed time to create a ‘game-plan’ to tackle the existing humanitarian issue within the challenging socio-political context. The combination of inspirational speakers and engaging activities created a comfortable environment for students from different disciplines to connect and inquire about each other’s pasts and hopes for the future, while at the same time empowering those of us in the early stages of our global health trajectory to have the confidence to engage our global health heroes in conversations, both during the SYP summit and the larger CCGH.
From a nursing student’s perspective, this event was valuable for a number of reasons. Firstly, the event had a focus on fostering the passion and curiosity that draws students from all disciplines into the global health sphere. The speakers, coming from various backgrounds themselves, touched on the importance this passion brings to your career, regardless of the letters following your name or the stage in your career trajectory. Also speaking on issues of ethics, health systems strengthening, intersectoral collaboration, the impact of climate change, national and global governance for healthy people, and of course Ebola, the summit provided a thoughtful and insightful preview of the current and future directions of global health, both in research and in practice. Another key element of the summit was the focus on mentorship. Through effective mentored partnerships with seasoned professionals (facilitated by CSIH through MentorNet or through personal connections) and reflection on motivating factors and future career aspirations, it became apparent to all participants that careers in global health could be a reality. Next….the main event…
To read part 2 in this series please click here.