Friday, 13 November 2009 marked the first-ever Center for Global Health Symposium and Student Global Health Day. I had a great time and learned a lot – especially about things to consider when applying for jobs in global health in a couple years. It was great to meet global health leaders from around the world and hear about health systems in three countries – South Africa, Ghana and India. The speakers’ presentations should be up on the CGH website soon.
The morning symposium featured three members of the External Advisory Council speaking about health systems in each of their countries. Dr. Marian Jacobs discussed the public/private health systems and the relationship that South Africa has with other global partners, particularly how many South African doctors leave the country for other, richer countries, and many Cuban doctors go to South Africa to work in rural areas. Dr. Peter Donkor spoke about health systems in Ghana, specifically highlighting how traditional health practitioners have a trusted role in healthcare and how Ghanaians’ changing lifestyles are leading to more non-communicable disease burden. Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, the President of the Public Health Foundation of India, talked about how the Indian health systems are very decentralized, with much of the control in the hands of individual states and districts. He said this leads to two things: 1. more culturally-relevant care and 2. possibly higher care disparities between regions. All three speakers spoke about the human resources in their respective countries, and stated that they are facing a shortage of professionals born, raised and trained in their own countries.
The Student Global Health Day in the afternoon was also educational. Another External Advisory Council member, Joel Lamstein, kicked off the afternoon activities with a brief talk about a possible future of global health. Mr. Lamstein is the founder and President of John Snow, Inc. and the President of World Education. He gave a lot of great career advice for people interested in going into the field of global health. His big take-away message was that neither business students nor public health students had all the skills that are useful in such careers, but that business and public health students should learn across disciplines and be sure to gain analytical skills as well. The student posters were very high quality and the two student presenters explained their great work about blood cancers in Egypt and maternal health issues in Liberia. Global health-related student groups also had tables with info and ways to get involved during the Student Global Health Day.
You can become a Student Associate or Faculty Associate by submitting an application at any time. For more coverage of the annual Symposium and Student Global Health Day, you can become a fan of the U-M CGH on facebook. I was also live-tweeting during the day, and you can see all tweets marked with hashtag #UMCGH here.