Time to go global: a consultation on global health competencies for postgraduate doctors

Int Health. 2016 Sep;8(5):317-23. doi: 10.1093/inthealth/ihw019. Epub 2016 May 30.


Background: Globalisation is having profound impacts on health and healthcare. We solicited the views of a wide range of stakeholders in order to develop core global health competencies for postgraduate doctors.

Methods: Published literature and existing curricula informed writing of seven global health competencies for consultation. A modified policy Delphi involved an online survey and face-to-face and telephone interviews over three rounds.

Results: Over 250 stakeholders participated, including doctors, other health professionals, policymakers and members of the public from all continents of the world. Participants indicated that global health competence is essential for postgraduate doctors and other health professionals. Concerns were expressed about overburdening curricula and identifying what is 'essential' for whom. Conflicting perspectives emerged about the importance and relevance of different global health topics. Five core competencies were developed: (1) diversity, human rights and ethics; (2) environmental, social and economic determinants of health; (3) global epidemiology; (4) global health governance; and (5) health systems and health professionals.

Conclusions: Global health can bring important perspectives to postgraduate curricula, enhancing the ability of doctors to provide quality care. These global health competencies require tailoring to meet different trainees' needs and facilitate their incorporation into curricula. Healthcare and global health are ever-changing; therefore, the competencies will need to be regularly reviewed and updated.

Keywords: Diversity and health; Global health; Health promotion; Medical education; Postgraduate education; Workforce development.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Cultural Competency / education*
  • Curriculum*
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / standards*
  • Female
  • Global Health / education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians / standards*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires