Global health short course
Authors: Sabina Ikram
Publication date: 30 Nov 2012
The global health short course held at Imperial College London has been running once a year for the past few years. It takes place over five days and offers an introduction to global health, covering a wide range of related topics. The course directors are Alan Fenwick, professor of tropical parasitology at the college, and Helen Ward, director of education at the college’s School of Public Health.
Who is it for?
The course is for anyone with an interest or career aspirations in the field of global health. Participants on this year’s course came from across the world and from a variety of backgrounds—for example, medical students, doctors, a nursing student, a midwife, and nutritionists.
When did you do it?
I did the course during the second year of my foundation training, but the course would be suitable for students and doctors at any stage of training.
Why did you do it?
I hope to pursue a career in infectious diseases medicine and would like to work abroad at some point to gain further experience in this field. Given these interests, I thought an overview of health and disease on a global scale would be valuable—both to increase my understanding and knowledge of what constitutes “global health” and to guide my future career direction.
I was particularly interested in learning about neglected tropical diseases. I plan to complete the diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene this year at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, so I thought the global health short course would be a good introduction to this topic. I also hoped to discuss with the faculty and fellow participants their experiences in this branch of medicine, in addition to finding out about opportunities for individuals such as myself to enter and build a career in this field.
What did it involve?
This course was delivered in a range of different formats: lectures, group work, films, discussions, and debate. All sessions were interactive, with participation highly encouraged. The course began with introductory lectures, outlining key concepts in the field of global health and on the assessment of disease burden.
Topics covered during the week included:
Neglected tropical diseases
Human immunodeficiency virus
Climate change and health
Non-communicable diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer
Media and health
Food and nutrition
The course had a good balance between clinical and non-clinical content, such as the biomedical, social, and economic aspects of global health. Clinical content covered both communicable and non-communicable diseases, and on the whole was pitched at a level that could be followed by delegates from a non-medical background as well as those from a medical background.
The lectures and group work provided a good insight into the practicalities of working abroad in resource poor settings, describing the challenges and day to day realities of working for a non-governmental organisation, setting up and maintaining healthcare provisions where needed, and working with local communities and governments to build various healthcare strategies.
A question and answer session with a panel on careers in global health was useful, although it could have been longer as it seemed to have been the part of the course most anticipated by the participants.
Was there an exam?
The course had no exam, but a couple of multiple choice question sessions were held during the week as an introduction to global health and after a film about guinea worm eradication. A certificate of attendance was given at the end of the week.
How much did it cost?
This year the course cost £50 for all attendees, which included attendance at the course, a course pack, refreshments, and a welcome evening. However, for 2013 the cost has risen to £200 (standard) and £60 (students).
Would you recommend it?
I would recommend this course unreservedly. It offers a broad and unique perspective on health issues facing the world and current, as well as possible future, ways of tackling these issues.
The different teaching formats used on this course meant that delegates’ interest was held throughout the week. The knowledge, expertise, and enthusiasm of the lecturers made for an informative and interesting experience, and the teaching faculty was very approachable. The mix of fellow students brought different viewpoints and experiences to the debates and group work. As such, the course offers a good opportunity to network and gain an understanding of what global health encompasses.
Attendance at this course has reaffirmed my interest in the field and has also highlighted the importance of public health research, which underpins much of the continuing work in global health.
Make sure you read the material on the extensive reading list provided before you attend the course, as it introduces concepts touched on during the lectures (web links to the reading list material were emailed before the course began).
The next course runs from Monday 24 to Friday 28 June 2013. For further information contact the course administrator, Nikki Whitelock: tel 020 7594 2116; email firstname.lastname@example.org; www.imperial.ac.uk/publichealth/education/shortcourses/globalhealth/.
Competing interests: None declared.
Sabina Ikram foundation year 2 doctor
Newham University Hospital, London, UK
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