conference education health research

SAAHE keynote – Improving health professions education to improve health (Bill Burdick)

I’m going to split my blog posts up according to the different sessions, just for ease of reference i.e. a few posts, rather than one very long one. Here are my notes from the first keynote of the day, from Professor Bill Burdick.

If you don’t continue the momentum for change, you’re going to be left behind

We need to start system capacity building at the undergraduate level

Presentation made good use of Gapminder (started by Hans Rosling to track human development trends)

It turns out that GDP isn’t the most important factor in determining life expectancy, nor is the number of doctors / 1000 population, nor is sanitation and literacy, although there is an increasing trend for each of these variables. Health spending as a % of GDP also isn’t the major factor. Changing each of these independent variables isn’t going to necessarily enhance life expectancy, but changing all of them will.

Fewer children per woman = greater life expectancy, also the younger a woman is at marriage, the earlier she dies

Taking these factors into account, what must we as health educators do to have an impact on improving health?

Academics have the skills to pull in, analyse and interpret data, and to disseminate the resultant new knowledge, which clinicians need to make evidence based decisions to enhance clinical care.

It is important for academics / health educators to integrate with the public sector by engaging with the community, training other health workers, incorporate health professionals in the management sector, and to engage with public policy makers

Ruth Levine – Case studies in global health: millions saved (freely available report):

  • Health interventions have worked even in poor countries
  • Donor funding saves lives
  • Saving lives saves money
  • Partnership is powerful
  • National governments can get the job done
  • Health behaviours can be changed\
  • Successful programmes can take many forms

Health education by itself cannot improve health

Is our curriculum aligned with any of the following factors?

  • Water
  • Sanitation
  • Fertility
  • Literacy
  • Social integration
  • Access to healthcare
  • Nutrition

Discussion of the above can easily be integrated into any case study but faculty may need support during the change

Start system capacity building with undergraduates

  • Teach leadership and management skills → students can be better at facilitating community change with these skills
  • Add interdisciplinary education to improve subsequent team work
  • Integrate rural practitioners into the faculty role
  • Create systems for knowledge sharing (academia ↔ community)

Positive deviance inquiry – technique to introduce behavioural change in communities

Lessons to learn from the Brazilian health education system

  • Curriculum guidelines should emphasise local needs
  • Government and medical school leaders attend educational meetings together (integration of ministry of health and ministry of education)

If any of this is to make an impact in health outcomes, institutions must have institutional goals that reflect a desire to improve health → then faculty promotion can be linked to institutional goals