The Global Health Case Studies from Weill Cornell Medical College is a lecture series offered as an undergraduate course at Cornell University’s Ithaca Campus. The course features faculty members from Weill Cornell who speak about their experiences in global health from a biosocial perspective. A biosocial approach is one that understands medical treatment must be coupled with understanding the social context of a region, in order to enact effective public health programs. Faculty have shared their experiences working in Tanzania, India, Syria, and more.
Dr. Gunisha Kaur, an anesthesiologist at Weill Cornell, is one lecturer featured in the course who shared her experiences in India. Dr. Kaur spoke about the introduction of ultrasounds in India and the subsequent misuse of ultrasounds for gender determination that may lead to female feticide, which she explained “comes down to economic factors: the economic productivity or ability of women to contribute economically to the family unit.” Although this was not the intent of introducing ultrasounds into countries like India, a lack of adequate social consideration before the introduction of the technology resulted in unintended consequences. In her recent lecture, she identifies possible short term and long term solutions to this issue. For example, more regulation and training can help reduce the misuse of ultrasounds, but a long term solution requires changing the gender biases and cultural norms.
In order for global health efforts to be sustainable, institutions must take into account the social, economic, and environmental context of any intervention or program. The movement towards a biosocial approach will likely take decades due to its complexity even with academic backing. The multidisciplinary approach to global health has proved difficult as there are often many challenges present, such as lack of government support, lack of contextual knowledge, and lack of financial resources. This course examines these challenges by exposing students to the unique perspectives of health care practitioners through their experiences in global health.
Other Weill Cornell staff involved in the lecture series are Dr. Eric Brumberger, Dr. James Gallagher, Dr. Matthew Simon, Dr. Halinder Mangat, Dr. Madelon Finkel, Dr. Linnie Golightly, and, Dr. Josyann Abisaab. To read more about Dr. Kaur's lecture and the lecture series visit the Cornell Daily Sun