Empowering UK health professionals to engage with global health issues
Dr Layth Hanbali is a NHS junior doctor and the partnerships co-lead for Health Professionals for Global Health
The relevance of global health to our everyday lives cannot be overstated.
It is not even necessary to define who “our” refers to; the relationship between politics, society and health at both individual and population level is relevant to every living thing.
The model used to determine how health services are funded, organised and delivered clearly affects our health. In addition, so do factors as far-reaching as housing, education, employment, social services, transport, the environment and the economy.
Despite an increasing understanding of these wider determinants, curricula for health professionals often only gloss over them and still do not empower health professionals to engage in these issues effectively.
Raising the profile of global health
We are a group of UK health professionals who recognise this relationship between health and factors beyond the immediate interaction between the healthcare system and patients. Not only that; we believe we have a responsibility to contribute to a healthier society by engaging at a social and policy level for the health and wellbeing of the population.
We want UK health professionals to be empowered to engage in global health issues at home and abroad.
Our aim is to raise the profile of global health education in all training curricula for health professionals, leading to a greater understanding, capacity and desire to advocate on those issues.
We work with partners at home and abroad to build a network to achieve these goals.
We are Health Professionals for Global Health.
Health Professionals for Global Health was founded in 2017 with the merging of two already established bodies who worked on education and advocacy on global health in the UK. We felt that we could join resources and move forward as a stronger entity to meet our shared objective of 'global health for all people.' These two groups were Alma Mata and the Global Health Curriculum Group (GHCG).
Both organisations were born out of recognising a gap in our education and action on issues that affect every aspect of our patients’ and the population’s lives.
Addressing the gaps in health professionals' education
Together, we will address these gaps in combination. We launched at the Royal Society of Medicine in February 2018 with an event on how UK health professionals can be engaged in global health that was organised together with RSM-KCL Global Health. For this session, we brought together Health Education England, academics, health professionals and activits.
Our other events have included advocacy events at UCL and LSHTM on Healthcare Access for Refugees and the enforced NHS charges placed on migrants. These events have stimulated discussion and advocacy and set the groundwork for sustainable productive partners.
One such relationship we are developing is with the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
RSTMH’s Mission makes special mention of “providing the knowledge and networks, across all disciplines, that drive impact” [to improve health], similar values and aims to ours in Health Professionals for Global Health.
This provides a fantastic opportunity to build a synergistic relationship between similar-minded individuals and groups, working through joint events, shared advocacy or forming relationships and alliances on the two organisations’ respective projects and aims.
Join the community
We welcome all health professionals who are interested in working on the issues we outlined above. This includes nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, midwives and anyone else!
Our vision is of “A UK health workforce that engages with global health challenges to achieve equitable health for all.”
If you want that too, join us!