This Year's Global Health Training: 2018-19 Workshops

At our Big Weekends and General Assembly, we provide training and resources to educate and empower you, our SKIP members. One way we do this is through Global Health workshops which explore different aspects of Global Health and introduce new concepts. Here is a summary of the workshops that were held in the term 2018-2019.

Autumn Big Weekend 2018 – Health in Conflict

‘The First Principle of Health is Life’

In this Global health workshop, we explored how health is affected by conflict. The direct and indirect effects on our physical and mental health, the effect on healthcare facilities and workers, how we recover from conflict and finally how this affects SKIP.

Direct effects are the ones we hear about – physical injuries from war, torture and sexual assault; mental health deterioration due to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and many more unknown due to the lack of services. The Rwandan Genocide, a modern era conflict, showed us the brutal extent of war.

The workshop also looked at the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where sexual violence and an Ebola outbreak are being used as weapons of war. Sexual violence instils fear and stops you from going out into the fields to do work and the whole economy crashes. By stopping healthcare workers in treating Ebola patients you sustain an Ebola outbreak and cause further damage.

Healthcare facilities and workers are being targeted more and more in the modern era conflicts, and there is a disregard for international laws on human rights, refugees and humanitarianism.

‘2017: 188 hospitals and clinics were damaged or destroyed, 50 ambulances attacked or stolen, and there were 57 reports of armed groups violently assaulting staff and patients in hospitals—101 health-care workers were killed and 64 kidnapped, 203 patients were killed, and 141 injured. Denial or obstruction of access to health-care facilities was reported 74 times. 57 of these events were in the occupied Palestinian territory. In Turkey, a physician was arrested for providing impartial medical care, and in Afghanistan, female health workers have been threatened for actions deemed inappropriate for a woman. Health facilities in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Egypt, and Turkey have been forced to close.’

The death toll with indirect effects on health are far higher than the direct effects posed by conflict. Conflicts disrupts the country’s healthcare system and stops public health interventions – no more vaccinations, sanitation facilities deteriorate and this causes a surge in infectious diseases. The Cholera outbreak in Libya is a prime example. Food shortages cause famine and malnutrition, high numbers of infant and maternal mortality and many displaced communities with no where to live for years afterwards.

Conflict causes huge problems in Health and it can seem a negative and never-ending cycle, but there are many global health advocates working hard to achieve peace. Two examples are the Nobel peace prize winners of 2018 – Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad – “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict”. I cannot explain in this article the work that these two amazing human beings have done, please look up ‘City of Joy’ on Netflix and watch the UN security council videos of statements by Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege to know more, and of course Google them!

Why is all this relevant to SKIP? To answer this we need to look at the vision of our charity:

‘For all children to be cared for and supported in accessing the basic rights of health, welfare and education within their communities.’

‘For future professionals to have the awareness, ability and motivation to influence and contribute to global development.

Many children have trouble accessing health, welfare and education because of conflict and this is present in all of our SKIP projects. By being aware of the situation of our project country we are able to better understand the needs of our partner organisations, the children, men and women we work with. Remembering that conflict that happened many years ago can still have a profound effect on a community and being sensitive to this will help us better contribute to global development.


Spring Big Weekend 2019 – Universal Health Coverage and Health Systems

‘All UN member states have agreed to try to achieve universal health coverage by 2030’

In this Global health workshop, we explored the concept of universal health coverage and health systems. By looking into what is universal health coverage, what are its basic components, how can we achieve it and progress towards it. We also looked at different health system types and components that make an effective health system. We also tried to build the ‘NHS of SKIPland’.

The workshop first explored the meaning of health systems, the five control knobs that affect the performance of a health system and basic models of health systems. We then looked into the health systems in our project countries – did they fit any of these models? Were the health systems performing well? We also thought about the issues our NHS faces – some of the ethical problems such as balancing care quality and efficiency, distribution of money etc…

Secondly, we introduced the concept of ‘Universal Health Coverage’ and tried to build the ‘NHS of SKIPland’. Participants were given basic demographic information about the country SKIPland, split into different stakeholders interested in health systems and given twenty minutes to build it! It was hectic, many debates and negotiations between the private sector, the bank and the government and we couldn’t plan everything! The exercise really showed the difficulties of trying to achieve universal health coverage. Many of our project countries do not have universal health coverage and are still trying to achieve this.

As a charity our projects are trying to address the unmet needs of the community by providing services that are still to be achieved. The United Nations and World Health Organisation have made it their goal to achieve Universal health coverage by 2030, this has increased the funding and interest in this sector.

General Assembly 2019 – Global Health Actors

In this Global health workshop, we looked into the ‘Actors’ that make up the global health field, who are they and what do they do. We also explored the strengths and weaknesses of these actors and finally who gives money and to whom?

Global Health ‘actors’ primary intent is to improve health by either providing funds for programs (Donors) or by receiving funds and implementing projects (Recipients). SKIP would be classed as a recipient as we help implement projects.

The workshop explored the type of global health actors, from multinational organisations (WHO, UNICEF) to bilateral government organisations (DFID, USAID) and Non-governmental organisations (NGOs such as CHFi, SKIP). The global health field is littered with thousands of actors each with their strengths and weaknesses, some work locally, others nationally and a few internationally. The way each organisation approaches an issue can also be interesting to explore.

I implore you to look up these actors and find out what they do, you never know you may even work for these actors in the future.

Hoffman, S.J. and Cole, C.B. (2018). Defining the global health system and systematically mapping its network of actors.  Globalization and Health . 14 (38)

Hoffman, S.J. and Cole, C.B. (2018). Defining the global health system and systematically mapping its network of actors. Globalization and Health. 14 (38)

This article was written by Chaitra Dinesh - SKIP National Global Health Coordinator 2018-19. During her year on SKIP’s National Committee, she also held a role on the Students for Global Health National Committee. All three training workshops were designed and delivered by Chaitra. You can access the presentation slides for each of the workshops here: Health in Conflict; Universal Health Coverage and Health Systems; Global Health Actors.