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June 4, 2010

Rosario, Miss Universe and Social Determinants of Health: Day 2 at Global Health Course

Day 2 at the Global Health Course was sort of like a continuation of the course's introduction, only this time, each country group was given an opportunity to introduce their country and the health situation of their respective nations. Yesterday, we were preparing for our report on the Philippine Health Situation and we actually couldn't help but feel depressed. Let's face it. The Philippine Health Situation is not as rosy as our government would want us to think. We did mention in our report that only 1.5% of the total national budget for example is invested on health. Infant mortality rate may be "declining" but statistically, it is almost like "plateauing". The Brain drain phenomenon is of course a trend in the Philippines and the health sector is not spared.

During our reporting, I introduced basically the geography, climate and political system of the Philippines. Doc Ryan talked about Economy and the financial management of our health budget (if there is such a thing as health budget). Doc Paul talked about our health indicators. Doc Gene answered a question on the immigration of our health professionals, thus affecting the delivery of basic health care services.

To compensate for the depressing reality which we were actually projecting about the Philippines, we decided to make the report light, introducing a little bit of that popular Filipino humor, manifesting a typical Filipino trait of being able to smile amidst the travesties of life.

Doc Ryan was even quick to add a little bit of trivia. The first Miss Universe, he reminded, was a Finn and she married a Filipino. She gave up her Miss Universe crown for the sake of her love for a Filipino. Talk about a Filipino-Finnish connection here.

I did mention about the beautiful beaches in the Philippines and did not fail to advertise our tourist attractions, which also include typhoons, volcanic eruptions and other stuff as well. Of course, for any interested tourist, they have 7,107 options to choose from; 7, 106 if it's high tide.

There learning about the Philippine health situation was further emphasized when Doc Ian Gomez presented the Story of Rosario during a group work/discussion on social determinants of health.

The learning there is that: illnesses always have multifactorial causes, these include the non-medical and medical factors. Another learning is that, these multifactorial causes are somehow interlinked, thus the approach to providing solutions to the problems can be as complex as the problems themselves.

It is important therefore that as medical doctors, we don't only look at a certain medical condition from a clinician's point of view. While there are biological basis to the development of a disease, it is not the sole factor in the development of said disease. The evolution of disease is always biopsychosocial.

It was an interesting day at the Global Health Course today. Many insights from the participants were shared and each country has its own unique health problem, thus their own different set of health priorities.

But the intention is the same: to provide quality health for all.

After the sessions, we went to a nice place (which I actually forgot the name but will try to ask tomorrow) where we had our welcome dinner and some games that would help us actually try to recall the names of both participants and faculty.

It was also an opportunity to bond and get to know the other participants as well.

Day 3 begins much earlier tomorrow.

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