|LETTER TO THE EDITOR
|Year : 2017 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 254-255
Health policy for health professions students: Building capacity for community advocacy in developing nations
Myron Anthony Godinho1, Shruti Murthy1, Ali Mohammed Ciraj2
1 Public Health Evidence South Asia (PHESA), Prasanna School of Public Health, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka, India
2 FAIMER International Institute for Leadership in Interprofessional Education, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka, India
|Date of Web Publication||18-Apr-2018|
Myron Anthony Godinho
Public Health Evidence South Asia (PHESA), Prasanna School of Public Health, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Godinho MA, Murthy S, Ciraj AM. Health policy for health professions students: Building capacity for community advocacy in developing nations. Educ Health 2017;30:254-5
Health professionals have a responsibility to ensure that the system, of which they are a part, is socially accountable to the people it serves. The World Summit on Social Accountability (WSSA) held in Hammamet, Tunisia in April 2017, hosted by The Network: TUFH, showcased a number of highly effective, student-led, community-advocacy health projects. These projects are the cornerstone of bottom-up, public health endeavors in underserved populations. The long-term sustainability of such projects requires empowered “citizen clinicians” to engage policy structures and processes, to procure essential financial and logistic support. However, health policy and advocacy training for health professions have remained limited to medical students in the global north (e. g. LEAD[S] programs), whereas other health disciplines and developing nations lack exposure. The WSSA 2017 offered a “sneak peek” of some recent, indigenously-seeded, student-led efforts to offer health policy training to health professions students in low-resource settings.
The effectiveness of simulations and participatory-learning approaches in the health professions is well-established. Over 60 years of education research into Model United Nations (MUN) simulations support the use of smaller, frequent classroom-based simulations over larger, annual MUN/Model WHO conferences. As an awardee of the “Student Projects for Health” competition, I had the opportunity to present my project, “Medical Model United Nations (MedMUN)” at the WSSA. MedMUN is a classroom-based platform for health professions students to engage in an evidence-informed discourse on global health issues at Manipal University, India. Designed for curricular integration, it involved four weekly training sessions during which participants were taught to craft policy statements and debate resolutions, write and deliver opening speeches, and navigate parliamentary procedures. To ensure that training in health policy, leadership and advocacy is rooted in the quest for good evidence, all participants were trained to acquire, appraise, synthesize, and utilize evidence from medical research to inform their policy argument. Training was followed by a UN simulation where participants debated evidence-informed policies and solutions for global health issues.
Another example of evidence-based debates for health professions students is the Model Health System 2017 program developed by MedSIN in Sudan (Sufyan AA 2017, oral communication, 10th April). This 15-day program sensitizes students to health systems, health policy formulation, health policy design, and parliamentary debate skills, in preparation for a National Health Assembly simulation on the final day of the course. While MUN/Model WHO platforms focus on global health, the “Model Health System” format concentrates on the national health policy discourse.
There is a need for health professions educationists to design and develop programs that address health policy and advocacy training in the regions with the greatest need for health systems strengthening. The aforementioned projects are innovative ways of addressing this need in resource-limited settings. In the long run, these capacity building interventions have the potential to groom a new generation of health professionals with the skills and attitudes required for initiating change pathways that address the health needs of the community.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
| References|| |
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