At CUGH’s Annual Meeting last week in Washington, DC educators and students from over 60 countries met to discuss the global health landscape. Perhaps one of the most powerful and emotional sessions was one that captured power of reflection in global Continue reading
International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) is not just another acronym in a field laden with catchy abbreviations- it is a groundbreaking organization that despite its 60+ years of existence is doing something that remains innovative- bringing together medical student colleagues from around the world to work together as peers.
IFMSA Meets in U.S. for the First Time in Decades
This year the setting for the IFMSA General Assembly is Baltimore. Medical students from Sudan work alongside colleagues from the US, those from Panama collaborate with Poland, the interactions are endless. As an alumna of IFMSA I got the privilege to join the meeting and reconnect with old friends from my days as IFMSA-USA Vice President. IFMSA’s US affiliate is the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), who is also partnered with CFHI. IFMSA is a great resource for AMSA members, especially those interested in global health. Often the global health dialogue is dominated by Western voices. IFMSA allows 1,000+ medical students from around the world to work face-to-face twice a year. It democratizes global health and allows for crucial relationship development that is necessary for a unified global advocacy voice for health equity and justice. It has the secondary effect of humanizing perceptions of the developing world- rather that breading pity; it engenders mutual respect between colleagues from both resource-rich and resource-limited countries.
CFHI Global Health Approach Shared & Praised at IFMSA
Child Family Health International (CFHI) was in great company during the IFMSA alumni meeting. Attendees praised CFHI for its gold-standard model for global health education. Colleagues from Ghana, Serbia, Philippines, Nigeria, and beyond approached me with gratitude for CFHIs important advocacy voice in the global health education field.
I was equally as impressed by the candid discussion about advocacy provided by Predrag Stojicic from LeadingChange. Predrag distilled buzz words and espoused a platform for grassroots champion recruitment and leadership. A thoughtful organization, The 53rd Week, took the stage to describe their pragmatic approach to evaluate and maximize short-term medical trips. These trips are characterized by volunteers going to resource-limited communities, usually for 1-2 weeks to deliver medical care and related services. While well intended, the global health community is increasingly leery of short-term volunteer experiences, as their impact has been questioned and downfalls revealed.
The ‘Global Health Placebo Effect’
Lawrence Loh, co-founder of The 53rd Week, calls the appearance of impact enabled by short-term medical missions the “Global Health Placebo Effect.” Under the strong leadership of Loh and co-founder Henry Lin, The 53rd Week is creating a platform for the multiple, disjointed teams who visit a community at different times during the year to coordinate their efforts to created continuity, sustainability, and an overarching orchestrated approach targeted towards upstream interventions. Concurrently, they are raising awareness of the risks of short-term medical missions and suggesting alternatives that may lead to more tangible and sustainable ‘help.’
Evaleen Jones, MD is the founder of Child Family Health International (CFHI) and Clinical Faculty at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Today, on International Women’s Day we feature an experience from her recent visit to CFHI partner sites in India, and a story from a woman she met while there. Her story carries the message of community empowerment that CFHI embodies.
January 31. Today we visited Continue reading
Child Family Health International (CFHI) at 20 years old continues to be the gold-standard in forward thinking and innovative frameworks in global health education. CFHI provides community-based education alongside local professionals via clinical and public health experiences for students and those interested in learning more about medicine and health-related fields, with more than 20 programs in 6 countries. Programs cover a variety of topics from maternal health to palliative care.
What Makes CFHI Different?
After all these years CFHI remains unique, continuing to challenge paradigms in global health and advocating for local communities. CFHI partners with communities that are considered low-resource and underserved by global financial standards. Rather than focusing on what is lacking, however, CFHI helps to identify community strengths, ingenuity, and passion. In close collaboration with local teams, CFHI creates programs and funds community health projects identified and carried out by local teams. This practice is based on the asset-based community development approach, formalized at Northwestern University. The CFHI approach positions local health practitioners and patients as the ‘local experts’—presenting global health realities through authentic experiences that help shape and transform young people who are interested in global health, equity, and global citizenship.
Not Just Talking the Talk, But Walking the Walk
Importantly, CFHI is a staunch proponent of compensation for local community contributions and practicing financial justice. Uniquely CFHI, 50% or more of student program fees go directly to the communities they will be visiting, benefiting the local economy at large and specifically undeserved health systems. CFHI is an active affiliate of Consortium of Universities for Global Health, United Nations ECOSOC and has authored literature about global health educational curriculum development at undergraduate and graduate levels. CFHI encourages students to “Let the World Change You” in preparation for being a part of socially responsible, sustainable change they wish to see in the world.
From Skepticism to Hope: Turning Dark Profits into Enlightened Transformation
I’ve been a doctor now for 13 (lucky) years but I recently had the opportunity to reflect on my path towards becoming a physician and my involvement in Continue reading
A Global Team
Global Health Initiative (GHI) at Chicago Lake Shore Medical Associates is a nonprofit organization leading through philanthropic advocacy. Funding from GHI provided medical students at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine (FSM) the opportunity to engage in a month-long global health experience in Oaxaca, Mexico with a lasting impact. Beginning in 2011, Continue reading
In the rapidly growing field of global health education, looking at the effects and effectiveness of global health immersion on participants, host communities, and the larger health equity movement is essential.
Child Family Health International’s Quito, Ecuador Medical Director Dra. Susana Alvear and Global Medical Director Dr. Jessica Evert were featured in the closing keynote address of the 9th Annual AAFP Global Health Workshop. Nearly 300 attendees from 25 countries attended to share ideas, evidence, and inspiration on topics ranging from global health education at US institutions to the proliferation of family medicine around the world to the ethical challenges of global engagements.
Drs. Alvear and Evert presented on the realization of ethical aspirations- breaking down ethical concepts into practical topics and tangible actions. The presentation was warmly received. Dr. Dan Ostergaard, AAFP’s Vice President for Health of the Public and Interprofessional Activities emphasized the application of CFHI’s motto “Let the World Change You” for all trainees, faculty, and physicians active in global health. He also emphasized the concept drilled home by Drs. Alvear and Evert that we should really speak of “Toward Equity” rather than “Equity” itself given the gross disparities around the world. Drs. Evert and Alvear emphasized the ability of institutions and individuals from developed countries to highlight the value of assets in developing country contexts—for example, richness of culture, strong traditional medicine practices, resourcefulness, rather than emphasizing the disparities of financial resources in order to ‘level the playing field,’ a concept originating from CFHI’s former Executive Director, Steve Schmidbauer.
Great respect and admiration were expressed for CFHI’s leadership, program structure, and partnership model.
UT Health Science Center, San Antonio Houses Global Health in the Center for Ethics
It’s interesting to consider where a university or medical school chooses to house their Global Health efforts and how this affects the focus and framework of global health activities. Continue reading
In 1998 Ecuador was the first Latin American country to name reproductive and sexual health as constitutionally guaranteed human rights. Continue reading