Global Health. The two words pretty much sum up the situation. What the hell can a bunch of medical students do to change the global state of health? The answer is not much. But as the Reverend and activist Desmond Tutu said:
“Do your little bit of good where you are: It’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world”
Originally known as the Developing World Conference, and established in 2005 by members of the Australian Medical Students’ Association, the Global Health Conference is a meeting of medical students from around Australia that aims to fulfil the desire of medical students to discuss broader issues relevant to global health.
The inaugural conference hosted 200 delegates in Sydney, whilst the 2006 conference in Perth saw more than 250 students attend. In 2007, Adelaide took the conference to new heights, hosting over 300 delegates at an event that sold out nationwide in less than 12 hours.
The academic programme is filled with speakers from many disciplines, including workers from Médecins Sans Frontiéres, Health Advisors to Non-for-profit organisations, Politicians and many many more; while the social programme allows students to meet like-minded individuals from around the country.
The Global Health Conference aims to educate and empower medical students with knowledge about global health.
GHC 2012: ‘Our world, our health, our responsibility.’
Last September, twenty-two of our own UWS medical students headed to Cairns, Queensland in the hopes of gaining further insight into issues plaguing and aiding the progression of international health at the AMSA Global Health Conference.
Of course, the chance to experience the tropical paradise of Cairns (and the Great Barrier Reef), as well as forging endless friendships with medical students from all around Australia who have similar (and some dissimilar views) on the same issues doesn't hurt. No stone was left unturned – everything from human rights, globally and how they affect health outcomes, to climate change (not so removed from health as one would expect), to questioning of our own moral and ethical obligations and rights as health practitioners, and the controversies of refugee and asylum seeker health.
Richard Towle (a UNHCR representative) kept the audience enthralled with a thought evoking look at walking in the shoes of a refugee/asylum seeker, whilst there was a thorough look (and forum) into the issues surrounding Indigenous Health. Challenge Day allowed us all to move from station to station, and get hands on in OSCE style medical scenarios, whilst GHAWS had a chance to show off our projects on the second social night; UWS Medical Students also had the unique chance to hear from the projects of other Global Health Groups.
In terms of the social events, we looked for Carmen San Diego, got lost in the ocean, and wound up in Paradise across some awesome venues including the Cairns Reef Casino. Overall, I think students returned; exhausted but fulfilled, with one thing on all of our minds – bring on Hobart 2013