This is the story of how a small group of students, working alongside grassroots health leaders, forged a model that is transforming the role of undergraduates in global health.
In 2006, a group of Northwestern undergraduates were brought together by their common determination to answer one question: What is the best way for college students to improve the health of people living in poverty around the world? Frustrated by the short term options offered to them – donating money to humanitarian organizations, participating in medical mission trips, studying abroad – they set out to design a new solution. This model, they committed, would unlock the passion, resources, and creativity of their generation to help build a healthier world for all.
These students knew that there were grassroots leaders on every continent who had already started initiatives to improve the health of their own communities. From Rwandan medical school students rebuilding clinics destroyed by the genocide to Nicaraguan community health workers bringing clean water to their rural villages, these leaders worked day in and day out on the frontlines of health and social justice. Born and raised in the communities they served, they had the knowledge, relationships, and vision needed to create lasting change. However, these leaders and initiatives often lacked crucial resources – funding, technology, research, global recognition – to realize their full potential for impact.
It was clear that students and grassroots leaders each held a crucial piece of the puzzle. How could they join forces to tackle the complex challenges of global health? In the spring of 2007, the group at Northwestern brought 45 students from seven universities together to tackle this question at the first annual GlobeMed Global Health Summit. Crowded around a blackboard with minds collaborating and ideas flying, they forged the GlobeMed model.
Today, 2,000 students on 60 university campuses use the GlobeMed model to partner in a one-to-one relationship with grassroots organizations in 20 countries across 3 continents. Since 2006, our students and partner organizations have worked hand in hand, raising over two million dollars to implement hundreds of health projects in poor communities around the world. Through our partnerships, which continue year after year, we are building a global network of human connection and impact.
In 2012, GlobeMed began a collaboration with Global Health Fellows Program (GHFP) II, a cooperative agreement of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), to increase our capacity to grow and diversify our network.