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June 2, 2010

"Globalization is not a threat but an opportunity...": Day 1, GHC 7th cycle

The day started quite early for me. Although I set up my alarm clock at 6am, I was already awake by 4am. After breakfast, we started heading for the venue at around 8 a.m. The Pinoys decided to walk from our flat going to the campus instead of taking the bus. It was quite a long walk, longer than we expected, but it was an opportunity to meet the other participants. During the orientation, we were able to introduce ourselves and meet our teachers. Doc Ian Gomez from the Philippines is one of them. The other participants are from Nepal, Tanzania, Chile and of course Finland. There is one from Malawi. Not all are medical doctors, although majority are. There are some dentists and veterinarians as well.

Per Ashorn gave an interesting introduction on Global Health. The teaser was how to define global health. Among "experts", there is even an argument as to the "accurate" definition of global health. It seems that when one talks about international health or global health, the impression is that it deals with the dynamics among nations with regards to health, particularly the relationship between the high-income or developed nations and the low-income or developing or underdeveloped countries. This definition however is somewhat myopic in its perspective. It confines global health into a system where international health solely involves the handing out of aid by the developed countries to the third world or developing countries.

During the presentation though, the emphasis on global health was highlighted by the fact that globalization is inevitable. Throughout the history of mankind, the pattern is such that the world is getting smaller and the boundaries are getting blurred by the minute.

Since the start of human history, from the exodus of the first humans coming from Africa and settling into the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East, and later finding their way into Europe and Far East Asia, then the Americas and Australia to the eras of industrialization and the discovery of electricity and eventually the onset of the internet and high-speed communications, mankind has been moving and along with its movement is also the moving of goods, information, money and diseases.

In the more contemporary setting, this fact has never been more highlighted by the recent incidents of the SARS and Avian Flu and A(H1N1). It is not however limited to the communicable or infectious diseases. For example, it used to be that cardiovascular diseases are the leading causes of death among developed and industrialized nations only. But now, even the lower income nations or developing nations would have Ischemic Heart Disease as one of its leading causes of death, a lifestyle-related illness.

In other words, globalization is a trend which is definitely going to happen, if not happening already. Thus, while our technology and economies and even cultures are beginning to find their own paths to globalization, it is also certain that approaches to health management would also be global in their perspective.

The day ended with us going into our country groups to prepare for our report on the health situation of our respective countries. The presentation will be tomorrow.

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