Social Medicine Course

Program overview 

Beyond the Biological Basis of Disease: The Social and Economic Causation of Illness is offered by EqualHealth in collaboration with SocMed, an organization that advocates for and implements global health curricula founded on the study of social medicine. EqualHealth is excited to expand upon SocMed’s well-established curriculum to focus on the specific situation in Haiti. The course aims to facilitate students’ understanding of their role in global health and social medicine, developing the knowledge and perspective to become the next generation of leaders in the global health arena.

Course Prospectus 

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Course Overview
July 2016 marked the fourth annual “Beyond the Biological Basis for Disease” course in Haiti.  This three-week course, which is designed for health profession students of all levels, links tropical medicine with social medicine teaching.  The course will be taught in French.

20 students participate in the course, five from the University of the Aristide Foundation (UniFA) and other Haitian medical and nursing schools, and the other ten from around the world.  In the past the course was hosted at the Partners in Health/Zanmi Lasante hospital in Cange. In 2016 students lived and studied at the Cultural Centre of Mirebalais  and visited care delivery sites around Haiti.

The course merges a number of pedagogical approaches including field visits, classroom-based presentations and discussions, group reflections, student presentations, films, and bedside teaching to create an innovative, interactive learning environment in which students participate as both learners and teachers.  The goal of the course is to advance collective understanding of the interactions between the biology of disease and the social, cultural, economic, political, and historical factors that influence illness presentation and social experience.

The course curriculum places great importance on building partnerships and encouraging students to reflect upon their personal experiences with power, privilege, race, class, gender, and sexual orientation as central to effective partnership building in global health. In the spirit of praxis (a model of education that combines critical reflection with action) these components of the course give students the opportunity to discern their role in global health and social medicine through facilitated, in-depth conversations with core faculty and student colleagues.

The course represents the site expansion of SocMed's program which has been offered for in Gulu, Uganda since 2012.   

Course Objectives
1.   To promote international solidarity and partnership for generating solutions to global health challenges facing societies throughout the world
 2.  To foster reflective dialogue between Haitian and international medical students as a means of strengthening ties between the next generation of Haitian health professionals and a global network of their peers
 3.   To provide a structured global health experience for medical students with dedicated supervision and teaching in clinical medicine and social medicine
 4.   To study issues related to global health in a resource-poor setting with an emphasis on local and global context
 5.   To foster critical analysis of global health interventions in resource-poor settings
 6.   To facilitate the development of a clinical approach to disease and illness using a biosocial model through structured supervision and teaching
 7.   To build an understanding and skill set associated with physician advocacy
Course Curriculum
The course structure brings together teaching in both tropical medicine and social medicine. The social medicine component is divided into the following parts:
Part 1 – Determinants of Health Beyond Biology: Social and Economic Causation of Disease
Part 2 – Global Health Interventions: Paradigms of Charity, Humanitarianism, and Structural Change
Part 3 – Social Justice in Health Interventions: Models of Community-based Healthcare
Part 4 – Health and Human Rights and the Healthcare Worker as Advocate
Part 5 – Tools for Effective Application of Global Health Experience: Writing, Photography, Research, and Political Engagement

-Clinical topics will include cholera, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and other relevant diseases implicated in social determinants of health.

Course Faculty
A group of course leaders from both the U.S. and Haiti with expertise in tropical medicine and public health make up the core faculty, and will teach the courses in French.

Cost for the 2016 course has not yet been finalized, however, it should approximate the cost from the 2015 course, as follows:
Airfare (average in recent years):  $600
Full Room/Board for 3 weeks:  $1025
Course Fee: $ 1375
Total: $3,000
This estimate does not include vaccination costs, spending money for gifts and other small personal expenses, or any additional travel in Haiti not associated with the course that students may wish to do.
Financial aid may be available to cover a portion of the course fees for those with demonstrated financial need. If interested in being considered for this scholarship, please make note when you submit your application and an additional form will be sent for you to complete.

Eligibility criteria for applicants
-Health profession student of any year
-Proficient in French
-Available for the entire length of the course (July 10-30, 2016) 

Apply for the Course

Registration for the July 2016 course is now closed. 

L'inscription est actuellement ouverte pour le cours est ferme. 



Note: Credit for away electives can usually be arranged with a student’s home institution