Community Medicine: Because Health is Not Health without Social Health
As a professor in medical school teaching Family and Community Medicine, one of my topics is to teach Primary Health Care. I would usually discuss the Alma Ata Declaration Document with the class and discuss historical and current events related to Primary Health Care in the Philippine experience. But I have always felt that the best way to teach Primary Health Care is to let the students experience it for themselves so for the past two years, I have been challenging my third year med students to come up with a community project with a partner "community" of choice where they would come up with a project for the community, particularly one that addresses a health issue. The objective is for them to practice the principles on PHC that they have learned in school. They would write a monthly progress report about what they have done. As a final output they would come up with a video documentary that would describe their project and experience. For this year, I had these amazing community projects initiated by the students together with their partner communities.
I think they went in with the thought that they are there to teach the communities and they came out taught by their communities. What was common among all their projects was that it was anchored on capacity building. Medical students became agriculturists, nutrionitists, peer counsellors, as they taught their communities knowledge that perhaps they learn from their other subjects. I would like to believe this experience was just a sneak preview to what community medicine is all about. They would need a lot more to learn and do to further deepen their understanding and appreciation of community medicine and working with communities.