By Manasi Jiwrajka
In October, 2016, we conducted a Global Health workshop at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.
We advertised the event to medical and dental school students, and had an overwhelming interest in the workshop. We had attendees ranging from first year medical students to faculty members at the University of Queensland.
Prof Mieke van Driel, Deputy Head of the School of Medicine and Head of General Practice at the University of Queensland, opened the workshop with her definition of global health, and her experiences working with Medecins Sans Frontier. Her inspirational opening talk paved way for the workshop, and to hear our guest speaker Miss Seema Biswas, EIC of BMJ Case Reports and a war surgeon with the Red Cross.
Miss Biswas said that global health is just health. She also discussed the importance of humanitarian aid and how case reports are crucial in advocating for individuals and their health. One message from Miss Biswas’s talk that resonated with me and other students is that global health is not merely health overseas or abroad, but global in the sense of taking care of all the patients’ issues and addressing the social determinants of our patients’ health.
The workshop involved two breakout sessions. In the first, the attendees wrote on flip charts about the global health projects they have undertaken so far, and what they would like to do in the future. Students talked about their elective experiences in Haiti, the Philippines, in rural and urban Australia. We discussed where the students see their career in global health.
Miss Biswas also inspired students to write up their own case reports from their daily experiences with patients. It reminded us that any patient we see is a global health case on their own. As such, in the second workshop students used the BMJ Case Reports template to write a case report of their own using their experiences with patients, and we came up with a global health problem list. This was followed by a discussion on how addressing the social determinants of our patients’ health can result in improving health and access to health.
The global health workshop has been a great success, and we have received incredible feedback from the students. During the workshop we created a mailing list, through which the global health discussion continues, and we look forward to many more workshops in Brisbane and around Australia!