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Global health education for medical undergraduates

Submitted: 13 January 2011
Revised: 10 March 2011
Published: 19 May 2011

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Author(s) : Laven G, Newbury JW.

Gillian LavenJonathan Newbury

Citation: Laven G, Newbury JW.  Global health education for medical undergraduates. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2011; 11: 1705. Available: (Accessed 18 October 2017)


Context:  The Rural Undergraduate Support and Coordination (RUSC) program has stimulated teaching in remote indigenous health, primary health care and international health for Australian students prior to their placements. Medical students have traditionally taken electives in the developing world, although these electives are of variable use to the communities hosting them and to the students. Calls for development of a curriculum in international or global health have resulted in some attempts to define a curriculum. An International Health (IH) course at the University of Adelaide Medical School, South Australia, has evolved since 1999.
Issues:  The IH course has functioned both as an introduction to the social determinants of health and as a pre-departure course for student electives. The sequence progresses from general information to disease specific information and service provision for refugees and returning travellers. Experienced presenters deliver the content; student assessment is via a group development program proposal.
Lessons learnt:  The current course aligns with international thinking on 3 structural themes for global health: the burden of global disease, travellers’ medicine and immigrant/refugee health. Student opinion expressed in qualitative evaluation has been largely positive and consistent with the debate about whether this content should be a core unit or an elective part of the curriculum. From 2011 the course will be known as ‘Global Health’ and ongoing content development is expected.

Key words: Australia, global health, medical education, primary health care, rural health, world health.

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