By: Angela Day, Program Manager, Global Health Education
We are entering our ninth week of physical distancing in Nova Scotia, and there is global consensus that there is no going back to normal, even when the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. While we are all still learning and adjusting to the myriad changes brought on by the pandemic, we know that there will be new ways of operating in post-secondary education, with distance and blended learning playing more prominent roles.
What do these changes mean for Global Health education? We are at a dynamic moment in Global Health: while our work has new challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic cements the centrality of Global Health across all disciplines, and particularly in the medical and health professions.
The current pandemic presents an opportunity to think about a renewed focus for Global Health education, and the role of partners, students and faculty in determining what a global health future looks like. Global Health centres around issues of social and health equity both locally and globally. While existing inequities are brought into relief by this pandemic – particularly for Black communities, Indigenous communities and women and girls worldwide – there is still a lot we don’t know about the global implications. Some of the questions we hope to explore over the coming year include: How does a global health lens help us understand the implications of this pandemic for social and health equity? How is this pandemic playing out globally, and what does it mean for healthcare systems with limited resources? What can higher income countries learn from lower and middle income countries? What is the role of higher income countries in supporting countries with limited resources and health systems that may be overburdened by COVID-19? What foundational knowledge and clinical skills will be required in this new reality?
And, while there are currently exciting investments in global health research related to COVID-19 and the race for a vaccine, how do we maintain visibility of the already neglected tropical diseases that continue to circulate globally and present challenging comorbidities for much of the world?
A significant focus of our team at Dalhousie is working with international partners. We support students doing clinical and community electives from Thailand to Austria to Uganda and have built strong international partnerships over the years. Given closed borders and uncertainty about international travel in the near future, we must think differently about developing, maintaining and strengthening international partnerships.
While these are all complex challenges, we are poised to respond to these challenges through our education programs in the following ways:
- Strengthen relationships with our international partners to be able to better understand and respond to their needs. International partners will play an active role in our online pre-departure training, helping ensure that students are well-prepared for the ‘new’ world we’re living in;
- Develop relevant and timely co-curricular educational opportunities in Global Health for students who may not be able to travel internationally during their training. Options we are exploring include an interprofessional certificate program in Global Health equity, journal clubs focussed on Global Health research, and ongoing policy briefs.
- Leverage existing Global Health research and clinical activities across the university through digital knowledge translation activities, increasing traction of work that is already happening and highlighting the centrality and interdisciplinarity of Global Health.
In many ways, these activities will provide a stronger foundation for Global Health education. This program will allow us to meaningfully respond to the increased interest in Global Health, while situating these important conversations more centrally in the post-secondary futures already underway at Dalhousie and beyond. We look forward to working with students and faculty in 2020/2021 on these exciting endeavours. If you are interested in collaborating or participating in our education activities, please contact Angela Day, Education Programs Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on our global health education programs please click here.