About the conference theme and areas of focus – Why you MUST attend
Great disparities in health outcomes exist even in high income countries, demonstrating the importance of social determinants of health i.e. the environment in which people develop, live and work and in the systems that serve them. The main challenge for the education of health professionals in the 21st century lies in facilitating educational institutions to not only take up greater responsibility of directly contributing to the improvement of health of people it serves, but also to enter into collaborative efforts with the local health systems through education, research and service to help meet health needs of the people.
Charles Boelen, former Coordinator of the WHO program for Human Resources for Health, and a major international champion in the field, emphasized that in order that medical schools discharge their mandate of educating doctors to meet people’s needs, it was critical for the medical schools to ask: 1) Are we aware of people’s needs? 2) What kind of health system will meet those needs? 3) What kinds of doctors will work in that system? 4) How do we educate them? To be socially accountable, medical education needs to consider not only educational content, but also the context of society and of people’s needs. In this context, WHO defines social accountability of medical schools as “the obligation to direct their education, research and service activities toward addressing the priority health concerns of the community, region, and/or nation they have mandate to serve and that the priority health concerns are to be identified jointly with health care organizations, health professionals and the public.”(WHO 1995)
Responding to the need for change, the independent Global Commission on Education of Health Professionals for the 21st century (2010), published its report recently in Lancet. It emphasizes a systems approach in medical and health professions education and calls for transforming institutional and instructional approaches to better meet present and future health needs. Interdependence of health and education sector is extremely important and balance between the two systems is crucial to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and equity. Further, in late 2010, The Global Consensus for Social Accountability of Medical Schools (GCSA), an active global network of educators, has urged medical schools to improve their response to current and future health related challenges in society and reorient their activities accordingly. It stated that we need a doctor who is reflective, socially responsible, self-directed and adapts to changing health circumstances locally and around the world. Priority attention needs to be given to fostering graduates committed to primary health care and that medical schools are uniquely placed in terms of a role that they can play in the realm of public health.
The themes of ethics, social mission, primary health care and local health needs to inform curriculum design resonate widely but are much more relevant to India and Asia. As described in the Global Commissions’ report, India has a health crisis exacerbated by the shortage of doctors and a mismatch between the need for basic medical services in rural areas and congregation of specialists in urban centers. To correct this mal-distribution of doctors, the Medical Council of India has proposed wide ranging reforms in medical education under “Vision 2015.” The key reforms include a foundation course that includes communication, ethics and professionalism, followed by a curriculum that reflects India’s particular health burdens.
The SEARAME NCHPE 2012 conference will focus on many of the above issues in the context of South-East Asia and India in particular. Since the conference has been designed to be highly interactive with keynote addresses and experience-sharing interactive poster presentations laying the foundation for you to give your inputs through group-work so that ground realities and ways to overcome them in the South-East Asian regional context become translated to recommendations on important issues facing the health professions education in the region. This will provide the required inputs to enable the policy makers to move in the right direction.
Hence, your participation at this conference is critical. It gives you an opportunity to participate in lighting the lamp rather than cursing the darkness.