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 Table of Contents  
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 254-255

Health policy for health professions students: Building capacity for community advocacy in developing nations


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 Publication18-Apr-2018

Correspondence Address:
Myron Anthony Godinho
Public Health Evidence South Asia (PHESA), Prasanna School of Public Health, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/efh.EfH_135_17


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

How to cite this URL:
Godinho MA, Murthy S, Ciraj AM. Health policy for health professions students: Building capacity for community advocacy in developing nations. Educ Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 Jan 19];30:254-5. Available from: http://www.educationforhealth.net/text.asp?2017/30/3/254/229503

Dear Editor,

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),[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
University of Illinois. The LEAD Experience (Legislative Education and Advocacy Development); 2016. Available from: http://chicago.medicine.uic.edu/education/md-curriculum/curriculum-by-year/m3-m4-years/electives-and-pathway-structure/electives-catalog/legislative-education-advocacy-development/. [Last accessed on 2017 Nov 27].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Issenberg SB, McGaghie WC, Petrusa ER, Lee Gordon D, Scalese RJ. Features and uses of high-fidelity medical simulations that lead to effective learning: A BEME systematic review. Med Teach 2005;27:10-28.  Back to cited text no. 2
[PUBMED]    
3.
Obendorf S, Randerson C. Evaluating the model United Nations: Diplomatic simulation as assessed undergraduate coursework. Eur Polit Sci 2013;12:350-64.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Godinho MA. Medical Model United Nations (MedMUN); 2017. Available from: https://www.myrongodinho.wordpress.com/medical-model-united-nations-medmun/. [Last accessed on 2017 Nov 27].  Back to cited text no. 4
    




 

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