The Global Health Program (GHP) aims to foster and support Global Health activities within the Faculty of Medicine.

The GHP establishes strategic and sustainable initiatives by facilitating international placements for uOttawa students and faculty members, through interdisciplinary research, education, public health, healthcare, and capacity building opportunities, so that these may be carried out in a safe and ethical manner.

The GHP works closely with the School of Epidemiology and Public Health, basic science and clinical departments, research institutes, and global health student groups, including the UGME Global Health Interest Group of the Aesculapian Society. It supports the annual student-led Global Health Conference and other global health learning opportunities and events for faculty and learners. 

The GHP also offers the Concentration in Global Health and Social Accountability to all Faculty of Medicine learners. 

A medical student at healthy eating presentation at a local school in India
Explaining some of the latest research on-going with his team (Nicholas Ning)
Medical students undertaking a clinical elective at Clinique du Detroit in Tangier, Morocco (Lissa Bair and Alexander Roy)
A group of medical students sitting on a rocky beach in Montenegro
Medical students in an elective in Moshi, Tanzania (Claudia Lajeunesse)
Medical student playing with children


A vibrant, multidisciplinary community of Faculty of Medicine members and learners that contributes to the improvement of health and health equity, globally. 


To serve as a knowledge hub and facilitator of global health learning and experiences for all FoM members and learners and contribute to the Faculty of Medicine’s mission to expand its global health leadership. 


  • Equity and fairness 
  • Authentic and sustainable partnerships 
  • Capacity strengthening and knowledge sharing 
  • Interdisciplinarity 

For more information, contact the program coordinator at [email protected].

History of the Global Health Program at the Faculty of Medicine

The Global Health Program (GHP) was established in 2009 as the Office of Global Health to further Global Health activities within the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine by delivering educational programs including undergraduate and post-graduate curriculum development and supporting the initiatives of trainees and faculty.  

Since then, the program’s continued importance to the Faculty community has been manifested by students, residents, and professors, in a context where institutional Global Health Programs are in increasing demand and constitute a recruitment factor for medical trainees and graduate students. The GHP within IGHO aims to develop, manage, and promote opportunities for learners and faculty to engage in academic activities in resource-poor international settings. In addition, the GHP assists the Faculty of Medicine in establishing mutually sustainable and respectful partnerships with international partner academic institutions and NGOs in low- and middle-income countries.  

What does global health mean in the Faculty of Medicine’s Global Health Program?

Global health focuses on improving health and health equity for all people worldwide1. It emphasizes transnational issues, determinants and solutions, including challenges that cannot be addressed by one nation on its own. Historically, a core aspect of global health has been its focus on populations in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC); this stems from global health’s roots in public health and international health, recognizing the disproportionate burden of disease and ill health often seen in LMIC. Tackling global health disparities, such as the burden of infectious diseases and maternal and child mortality, was a key focus of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) from 1990 to 2015. The MDGs were largely focused on LMICs and were not applied in high income countries (HIC), like Canada. As the field of global health evolved, it has underscored the importance of population health approaches, the interconnected causes of poor health (e.g. migration, climate change, etc.), and the critical need for equitable global health partnerships and practices. At the same time, medical schools have expanded the concept and practice of global health to include health inequities facing vulnerable and marginalized populations within HIC, and their determinants and solutions, under a social accountability framework2. This shift coincides with the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals (2015 to 2030), which have been adopted and are reportable by all countries.

In the Faculty of Medicine, our Global Health Program through the International and Global Health Office (IGHO) focuses on activities and partnerships addressing the international and transnational aspects of global health education and practice, while our Office of Social Accountability programs and activities are directed towards populations living in vulnerable circumstances within Canada. While the core issues and root causes for these vulnerabilities may be similar across contexts, we feel it is important to make the distinction between the mandates of the two offices. Through these two structures (IGHO and SA), the Faculty of Medicine applies a common set of values and principles, mutually enacted through critical reflexive engagement3 with communities and partners in Canada and abroad, while maximizing our reach and impact.

Global health education within individual academic programs may adopt different approaches, depending on the norms and competencies that have been defined within their respective fields.


Global health is an area for study, research, and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide. Global health emphasizes transnational health issues, determinants, and solutions; involves many disciplines within and beyond the health sciences and promotes interdisciplinary collaboration; and is a synthesis of population-based prevention with individual-level clinical care (Koplan et al. 2009).

Social accountability refers to the obligation to direct the education, research and service activities of medical schools towards addressing the priority health concerns of the community, region, and/or nation they have a mandate to serve. The priority health concerns are to be identified jointly by governments, health care organizations, health professionals and the public (Boelen & Heck 1995).

  1. Koplan, J. P. et al. (2009) Towards a common definition of global health. The Lancet 373(9679):1993-1995.
  2. Boelen, C., & Heck, J. E. (1995) Defining and measuring the social accountability of medical schools. Geneva: Division of Development of Human Resources for Health, World Health Organization.
  3. Fitzgerald, M., Shoemaker, E., Ponka, D., Walker, M., Kendall, C. (2021) Global health and social accountability: An essential synergy for the 21st century medical school. J Glob Health;11:03045.


Debriefing is an important part of global health work abroad. Global health activities have proven benefits, but also have associated risks that include individual and patient safety, occupational health, as well as ethical challenges.

Based on research within our faculty and national guidelines we have been a national leader in successfully establishing mandatory pre-departure training for UGME students doing electives in low and middle income settings.  Now, we have established an innovative approach to the development of an effective debriefing program to support trainees taking part in these global health activities.  

To truly address the health and wellbeing of medical trainees, the current training program for those doing global health work has been extended to include a debriefing component. Particularly since, as our research and other research has demonstrated, there are many instances of patient-, ethics-, and safety-related experiences that need to be processed and resolved by the trainee to ensure appropriate wellbeing with reintegration into the training program in Canada.  

Debriefing allows learners to reflect on their experiences and translate their newly acquired skills and knowledge to other students. As well, these sessions enlighten students to how they can incorporate these experiences into future career planning. Ultimately, we hope to share some global lessons learned that can be anonymized to help future students and others undertaking global health experiences. 

The debriefing session usually includes: 

  • a semi-structured objective-based discussion and. 
  • a shared narratives based on photos taken by returning learners incorporating a process called Photovoice. 

Learners will be notified of dates and instructions, once their application for a global health placement is approved.