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The Catalyst

Program a gateway to global health understanding

by Cindy Abole
Public Relations

Students, health care professionals and faculty are opening the door to new experiences regarding the medical needs of others in developing countries through a Global Health program offered at MUSC. The program has been in the making for more than a year and is offered through the institution's Center for Global Health.

About 15 students are participating in the Global Health introductory course (Topics in Global Health) this spring. This is the first of four courses offered for the certificate program, which is taught by co-directors Andrea Summer, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, and Kenton R. Holden, M.D., professor of neurosciences and pediatrics.

Summer is no stranger to global outreach work. She previously taught an interdisciplinary global health education and tropical medicine elective course on campus. She also has taught a clinical elective for medical students and pediatric residents at Selian Lutheran Hospital, Tanzania. She continues to volunteer there today.

"It's exciting to see the campus' growing interest in global health and how it impacts local health care practices and other issues so that we can find ways to solve them. This program provides a resource to educate and inspire future practitioners and active volunteers to share their knowledge and skills both locally and abroad," said Summer.

The program provides knowledge and skills to address health challenges of underserved, multi-cultural and foreign-born populations while gaining global health field experience.

Participants must complete two to three elective courses and conduct a global health field experience in a local, national or international setting. Other courses in the curriculum address an introduction to tropical diseases and their significance, global health epidemiology and policy.

Goose Creek native Thomas Larrew is a first-year medical student enrolled in this spring's Global Health introductory course. The course covers childhood immunizations, HIV/AIDS, tropical diseases, nutrition, water and sanitation, infant mortality and tobacco control. In 2010, Larrew lived in Bogota, Colombia, as part of a Clemson University summer abroad experience. While there, he volunteered at an academic hospital. The experience inspired him to pursue a career in medicine. So when he learned about the new interdisciplinary certificate program offered through the Center for Global Health, he was thrilled.

"Everyone has a place in the conversation of global health issues. So far the class and discussions have been great at letting us learn how health care is managed locally and around the world. I'm interested to see how this program will help me and complement my international health experiences in the long term," said Larrew.

Larrew hopes to work alongside Holden to participate in a mission trip and conduct research in Honduras. The young student hopes to establish a screening lab for developmental disorders in newborn babies.

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