Last Wednesday saw a two faculty and four student panel faced with this enthralling question to mark the launch of the King’s Global Health Institute. The Institute seeks to bring together academics and students from a range of departments and disciplines who want to contribute to discussions surrounding Global Health.
In the first of many discussions organized and led by the KGHI Student Ambassadors, our diverse panellists – guided by Martin Prince, Professor of Epidemiological Psychiatry at the IoPPN – presented a range of viewpoints based on their individual expertise as well as personal experiences.
Our first panellist to speak, Zsofia, got the ball rolling by expressing her views on Global Health as a cross-cultural practice, stressing how healthcare professionals –policy makers, researchers and treatment providers alike – should be mindful when working in another country’s healthcare system, respecting the existing values it upholds. It was acknowledged by the panel that this does not always happen when more powerful countries intervene in the health matters of others.
Dr. Ed Gómez delved deeper into this point, exploring whether institutions which provide aid to countries in need actually help the issue, or whether they may cause additional problems. Being from the Department of International Development, Dr. Gómez used his background in institutional theory to break down the positives and negatives of such international aid, introducing us to arguments both supporting and opposing Global Health as a form of modern Imperialism.
We then turned to Suveer, a PhD student from a multi-ethnic background, who shared with us his own exposure to aid mechanisms during times he has lived in different countries. He spoke in particular of his work in Kenya, giving us a first-hand perspective on the difficultly of implementing healthcare – predominantly of Western origin – into a country, whilst attempting to remain considerate of the standards of behaviour already in place.
Dr Carlo Caduff continues with this train of thought by pointing out the fundamental differences between medicine and medical practices in varying parts of the world. He used the word ‘asymmetrical’ to describe these differences, an interesting but fitting choice when scrutinizing the intricacies of healthcare provision and implementation. With the rest of the panel in agreement, Dr. Caduff voiced his concern on the asymmetry of ‘Global’ Health leaning in favour of the Global North, and how this issue may prompt many to regard Global Health as a form of Imperialism.
Running with this point, Temitope then emphasised to us why the use of Bilateral Programmes is then so vital in healthcare, particularly when working in a different country with different cultural norms and views on healthcare. As a medical student, as well as KCL President of Students for Global Health, Temitope is no stranger to taking action against inequalities in healthcare, changing the way it is viewed and put into practise; an important step when investigating whether Global Health is Imperialistic or not.
To end the initial discussion, Beauty reflected on her own struggles facing inequalities in healthcare and its reformation; as a health-oriented student, she articulated the benefits she sees in healthcare intervention by more powerful countries. However, as someone with lived experiences of these interventions in less powerful countries, she also indicated that there was room for improvement. She ended by conveying how the balance between control and collaboration must be met in healthcare on a global scale before Global Health can be treated as a passive phenomenon that is free from Imperialism.
The floor was then opened up to questions, which our lovely panel were more than willing to deliberate on further – “Is imperialism too strong a word?” “How do we ensure our perspective on healthcare remains Global?” “How can we implement our knowledge from the UK back in our home countries?”.
Professor Prince ensured everybody had their say, engaging the audience with these questions as well as his own; “Is Global Health a form of Imperialism?”
It is perhaps unsurprising there was no straightforward answer to this question, but it seems the discussion had awakened many to contemplate Global Health in a new light. It is in this new light we walk away, armed with information that makes us better healthcare students, better academics and better future Global Health representatives.
After the event, attendees were invited to attend the launch of Dr. Carlo Caduff’s photography exhibit depicting cancer care in India, as well as encouraged to network with panellists and fellow audience members at our mingling event aimed at fostering interdisciplinary connections.
By Amy Ringrose
KGHI Student Ambassador
BA Global Health and Social Medicine
To keep up with the King’s Global Health Institute, and for links to their seminar series, you can visit their information page at: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/kghi,
Or follow their social media accounts:
Twitter – @KGHI_Amb
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/kghisa/
Instagram – @kingsglobalhealthinstitute
Professor Martin Prince, Director of the King’s Global Health Institute and Professor of Epidemiological Psychiatry, IoPPN
Dr Carlo Caduff, senior lecturer, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine
Dr Eduardo J. Gómez, senior lecturer, Department of International Development
Beauty Dhlamini – BSc student, Global Health and Social Medicine
Dr. Suveer Sachdeva – PhD student, Craniofacial Development and Stem Cell Biology
Temitope Fisayo – Medical student and President of Students for Global Health
Zsofia Szlamka – PhD candidate, IoPPN
Special thanks to Saba Hinrichs and Ann Kelly, Deputy Directors of the King’s Global Health Institute and Enitan Ledger, King’s Global Health Institute Manager.