US Students Seek Insights Into Healthcare Systems Abroad to Bring Lessons Home

Bay Area NGO, Child Family Health International, partners with the Philippines Department of Health, University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, and Rural Health Unit Clinics to help students gain a deep appreciation of how a health system provides services for all, even difficult to reach populations, as well as address distinct rural and urban realities.

Child Family Health International, an NGO in consultation with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, is facilitating rich experiences for students from the US to learn what health systems abroad are doing to provide basic health services and support difficult-to-reach patients. While health care reforms are stalled domestically, these students are seeking insights into how to provide cost-conscious care in settings where resources are inherently more limited. CFHI’s offers 2 and 4 week-long immersive experiences, most recently launching a new two-week program in the Philippines that focuses on health care in remote and island settings. This new program complements CFHI’s existing offerings across 10 countries.

Students begin their program in Manila learning about the macro-level structure of the health system, and then experience that system in practice in “barangays” or villages on remote islands in the breathtaking provinces of Quezon and Romblon.

While experiencing the cultural diversity and natural beauty of the Philippines, scholars learn about the structure of the decentralized health system, and how geographically isolated disadvantaged areas (GIDA) are overcoming challenges to providing adequate health care in the context of their unique geography. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to contrast their experience with a visit to urban and private health facilities in the capital city of Manila, as well as immerse themselves in host families, community gatherings, and cultural activities. Most importantly, this program offers life-changing firsthand exposure to the struggles and triumphs of local people collectively working to achieve better health outcomes for their communities. These lessons provide an opportunity for students to engage in reverse innovation through the use and application of approaches observed in the Philippines to address health challenges and inequities in their home countries. With the US facing challenges to provide affordable universal health care, these lessons are more relevant than ever.

CFHI Director of Programs Robin Young explains, “CFHI’s Unique 2-week Intensive programs provide insights into community-based empowerment and global health education. Through these programs, the next generation of global health leaders can experience the daily struggles and achievements that provide the context for health care globally. As students witness health care provision in geographic and socioeconomic contexts very different from their own, they broaden their understanding of what is possible to improve health for global and local communities.”

Source: Child Family Health International