The first week of February 2018, 25 third year Biomedical Sciences and Medical students travelled to Geneva for the grande finale of the Research Minor ‘Global Health & Infectious Diseases’.This study tour was organised and supervised by Rob Baltussen, Maarten Jansen and Alma Tostmann (theme Infectious diseases and global health).The students got a firsthand experience of what it is like to be in the Global Health capital of the world. The two-day trip aims to familiarize students with the mandates of important organizations located in Geneva (the World Health Organization (WHO), UNAIDS) and how they operate – to get a better understanding of the broader context of global health policy and the implementation of international health guidelines.
The first day was spent at WHO, where students presented the results of their research assignment on the impact and cost-effectiveness of several interventions on reducing the HIV incidence in South Africa. Despite their nerves, the students presented very professionally and engaged in real debates with the HIV/AIDS experts from WHO, making it worthwhile for both sides. During the day students enjoyed lectures on vaccines, adolescent health and at-risk populations and pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV.
According to the students this tour has broadened their horizons. Some students mentioned that they had already wanted to work for WHO but thought it would not be possible. After this visit it became clear to them that an internship or job at this organisation is within reach for people with their background and profile. Information on (MSc) internships and the Junior Professional Officers Program of the WHO was shared with the students.
On the second day students visited UNAIDS, where senior advisors met with the students to discuss country level experiences and HIV/AIDS associated discrimination in healthcare settings. Thereafter, students finished the program in Geneva with a visit to the United Nations Palais de Nations for a guided tour before heading back to the Netherlands in the afternoon.
This was the fifth time that the Minor coordinators and teachers organised this study tour. Given the repeated success of this experience and the potential impact this study tour can have on the future careers of the students, the tour will remain part of the program of the Minor Global Health and Infectious Diseases.
Third year Biomedical Sciences and Medical bachelor students from the minor ‘Global Health & Infectious Diseases’ at the Head Quarters of the World Health Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland.
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