Program in Global Medical Education and Social Change

Program Director: Joia S. Mukherjee, MD, MPH, 

Program Background

It is a very exciting time in Global Health. Just prior to the year 2000, the global movement for HIV treatment access and the drafting of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) highlighted the need to treat the sick and to address the social determinants of ill health (such as poverty, malnutrition, and lack of education). In the ensuing decades, building systems for the delivery of care has been a central tenet of the emerging discipline of Global Health. Strong health systems require sufficient numbers of well-trained trained health professionals. Yet chronic under-investment in both the health and education systems has led to a massive gap in the numbers of doctors, nurses and other health workers needed. Developing countries bear 90 percent of the global burden of disease, yet only 12% of all health expenditures are going to stem this tide. Africa is home to only 3% of the global health workforce who are paid less than 1% of global health expenditures.

The Program in Global Medical Education and Social Change, housed within the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School seeks to forge long-term academic partnerships to support the education of health professionals and to create a culture of teaching and training in public sector facilities in resource-limited settings that will serve as the nexus of teaching and scholarship for the emerging discipline of global health for decades to come. Thus, the program offers opportunities for students, residents, fellows, and faculty from resource-limited settings to be trained side-by-side with students, residents, fellows, and faculty from Harvard University and other academic medical centers around the world. Embedded in these programs is a rigorous evaluation of quality of care, capacity of the practitioners, and the capacity of the training programs to produce healthcare professionals that remain committed to the areas of greatest need. We believe that the growing interest in global health among students and faculty at Harvard and other academic institutions can—and should—be channeled to achieve the highest quality of training for those shouldering the burden of global health delivery. The cornerstone of the curricula developed by the Program in Global Medical Education and Social Change is “accompaniment”—that is the art of working with local governments and partners, and of responding effectively to priorities outlined by them through a combination of direct patient care, clinical innovation, training, research, and policy work.