Historically, global health was synonymous with exotic infections. More recently, the chronic diseases of affluence have surpassed these as taking the largest toll of life abroad. This theme consists of didactic sessions focusing on the exotic diseases that are indeed still encountered abroad, as well as the diagnosis and management of common and chronic diseases in resource-limited environments. Public health and prevention are also important here. Innovative approaches to patient care in the absence of technology, repair and maintenance of equipment (medical and other), and other aspects of medical logistics fall under this theme. These sessions are very practical and to-the-point, enlightening the newcomer and updating the experienced global health physician.
It is possible for well-intentioned global health activities to paradoxically fragment health systems and disempower leaders and patients in global settings. Partnerships are ideally bidirectional engagements and support the priorities and needs of the international partner. Intentional work is needed to reframe our global activities in order to disrupt historic patterns of colonialism.
Family Medicine as a discipline offers solutions to many of the world's healthcare challenges, such as access, cost-effectiveness, integration rather than fragmentation, and equity. For this reason, across the globe Family Medicine is being adopted. CGHI's roots trace back to a handful of consultants responding to requests for assistance to help implement the discipline in other nation. This theme addresses the establishment and refinement of Family Medicine as a discipline abroad. Not merely transplanting the US model abroad, but rather discovering and developing sustainable, self-propagating, indigenous models of Family Medicine is the goal. Topics include community and health system assessment, initiating Family Medicine training at the predoctoral and graduate medical education levels, retraining other specialists into the discipline, faculty development, interacting with those who make and those who implement policy, governmental and NGO stakeholders, political challenges and opportunities. Presentations in this theme include both the philosophical and the pragmatic considerations on the larger scale: regional and national levels.
Many family physicians are personally involved in global health, both at home and abroad. Indeed, Family Medicine is rightly a leader in global health. More than merely "international" medicine, global health transcend national boundaries and affect us all. This theme includes global health program design and implementation, both those educationally driven (medical school and residency electives or tracks) and those driven by humanitarian motives (medical missions, disaster response). It also encompasses the local practice of global health ("GLOCAL") in settings or among populations with striking similarities to those abroad: the underserved, refugees, rural or intercity populations, or post-disaster care.
Experiencing a new culture - especially when the visible needs, resources, values, and relationships starkly differ from one's own - can change one's life, or even world view. The majority of global health articles contributed by medical students or residents to the medical literature are reflective in nature. What changes in the participant is perhaps more important than what changes through the participant. This theme presents a venue for sharing testimonials, critiques, philosophical musings, poems, or even works of art about life-changing experiences gained while engaged in global health work.
Much global health work has been done over the years. The majority of it has not been evaluated for effectiveness or harm. What are the needs? What are the results? This theme focuses on meaningful research of global health problems and evaluation of global health programs. Are we making a difference clinically? in public health? in societal terms? educationally (for US and/or non-US learners)? How can these things best be measured? In an era of evidence-based medicine, it is imperative that our outreach abroad is also evidence based. Share your data and data-collection strategies here!