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Global Perspectives Searching for Solutions: Diving into the Ripple Effects of Global Disruption: Student Reflection

April 9, 2021

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend my first conference as a student at Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, and I was impressed! Called “Searching for Solutions: Diving into the Ripple Effects of Global Disruption,” it was a panel discussion involving health professionals from all over the world. In total, nine countries were represented to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic led to unprecedented challenges and a dramatic loss of human life worldwide. Three central themes emerged: political and economic disruption, social-cultural disruption and implications for population health. Each presentation began with a prerecorded introductory video followed by live discussion by panel members and opportunities for audience members to ask questions or leave comments.

The conference was to learn from each other and continue our commitment to addressing the current challenges presented by the pandemic for population health and health equity. The panel members provided insight about measures taken in each of their respective countries and how socioeconomic determinants play a role.

We learned about the increasing concern for the devastating collateral effects on health equity globally. This includes the loss of health insurance, jobs and homes that ripple into risk for mental and physical morbidity. Scovia Nalugo Mbalinda, MS, lecturer at Makerere University-Kampala in Uganda, addressed public and private transport no longer being available and that at one point, the news captured a man pushing a wheelbarrow with a wife in labor. From Ireland, a professor mentioned that student nurses lost their jobs as care assistants to engage in clinical practice.

It’s apparent that the effects across the globe are like those in the United States. From Ireland, Catherine M. Comiskey, PhD, professor at Trinity College Dublin’s School of Nursing & Midwifery, mentioned, “people have been given what we call a pandemic payment” similar to the stimulus checks in the U.S. Amanda Phelan, PhD, also a professor at the School of Nursing & Midwifery, brought up that student nurses lost their jobs as care assistants to engage in clinical practice, while María Galán Lominchar, MSN, professor from Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Spain explained, “As a country that bases a big part of its economy on tourism, this situation is tense in our system in a way we have never experienced. Many people lost their jobs due to curfews, lockdowns or some kind of restriction,” just as our unemployment rates skyrocketed.

This global pandemic necessitates a global response. Because our own health and security are on the line, perhaps it is difficult to look beyond what is happening at home and too easy to become narrow minded and drawn in. After attending this event, I realized there are enormous benefits to global engagement, cooperating and working with other countries. We are all looking for health, safety and security.

-Written By: Amy Kwok, Health Sciences

Please join us for the next event in the Global Perspective Series Disruptions to Care: Implications for Population Health