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Acad Med. 2011 Jul;86(7):889-91. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31821b3e14.

Perspective: postearthquake haiti renews the call for global health training in medical education.

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  • 1Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and Global Health Equity, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. narcher@partners.org

Abstract

On January 12, 2010, Haiti experienced one of the worst disasters in human history, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, resulting in the deaths of approximately 222,000 Haitians and grievous injury to hundreds of thousands more. International agencies, academic institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and associations responded by sending thousands of medical professionals, including nurses, doctors, medics, and physical therapists, to support the underresourced Haitian health system. The volunteers who came to provide medical care to disaster victims worked tirelessly under extremely challenging conditions, but in many cases they had no previous work experience in resource-limited settings, minimal training in tropical disease, and no knowledge of the historical background that contributed to the catastrophe. Often, this lack of preparedness hindered their ability to care adequately for their patients. The authors of this perspective argue that the academic medicine community must prepare medical trainees not only to treat the illnesses of patients in resource-limited settings but also to fight the injustice that fosters disease and allows such catastrophes to unfold. The authors advocate purposeful attention to building global health curricula; providing adequate time, funding, and opportunity to work in resource-limited international settings; and ensuring sufficient supervision for trainees to work safely. They also call for an interdisciplinary approach to global health that both affirms health care as a fundamental human right and explores the historical, economic, and political causes of inequitable health care.

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PMID:
21494116
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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