UCL Institute for Global Health
The Global Doctor
‘Medicine is a global profession framed by forces that transcend national boundaries’, states a new report from UCL’s Institute for Global Health, and its partners the Institute of Education and Medsin, the student movement for global health.
The Global Doctor report reveals the way health systems, professional practice and patient’s lives are being shaped by global challenges such as infectious disease, demographic change and globalization. As a result, the report argues, all UK doctors need some training in global health. Written by a team of medical students and academics, and funded as part of a UK Department for International Development-supported programme of work into the role of medical, pharmacy and veterinary students as global citizens, the authors point out that medical curricula are already changing to encompass the discipline of global health.
The report shows how teaching health in its global context can help train the type of analytical and open-minded professionals needed to function in a rapidly changing health care environment. It argues that global health needs to be taught from a multi-disciplinary perspective as health is determined by so many factors beyond medicine and the health care system. The authors also show the wide range of careers available to medical students studying global health, which stretch across research, humanitarian work and the world of policy, both in the UK and overseas.
In a foreword to the report, Lord Nigel Crisp, the former chief executive of the NHS, notes that Britain is increasingly learning from innovation in low- and middle-income countries, such as best practice in the management of TB and AIDS patients and alternatives to surgery for clubfoot. He argues that ‘all UK doctors, whether they choose to work in the developing world, or as GPs in Britain, must have an awareness of global issues.’
UCL has been at the forefront of developing global health curricula since 2000, including popular undergraduate and postgraduate programmes for health professionals and others. UCL’s Grand Challenge for Global Health programme has put a multi-disciplinary approach to global health at the heart of the university’s research and education agendas. Professor Jane Dacre, Vice Dean and Director of Medical Education at UCL welcomed the report, saying that it ‘defined global health as it affects students and young doctors and provides insights into the ways in which the next generation of doctors can participate in global health’.