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Global health training and postgraduate medical education in Australia: the case for greater integration

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To the Editor: Mitchell and colleagues have done medical education a service by outlining all the potential benefits and harms associated with global health training.1 They are right to state that sustainability is key — however, all too often in the past, it has been sustainability that has been lacking. According to Yikona, writing in 2003: “Case by case analysis of medical schools in sub-Saharan Africa would show an excellent first 10 years followed by a general downward spiral”.2 How are we to stop global health training going into a similar downward spiral?

There is unlikely to be a single answer, and potential answers are more likely to be found by looking forward rather than backward. The current technological revolution may, for example, have a profound impact on how we view global health training. In the past, doctors have had to travel to new locations to deliver education but today that is no longer necessary. Medical education may be delivered by means of synchronous video-conferencing over the internet. Surgeons can demonstrate new procedures by this means; physicians can diagnose patients with physical signs using teleconsultation; lecturers can simply lecture. Medical schools can put all their educational resources online…