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Global Health

This page is your starting point for you to inquire about international electives, learn more about global health at NOSMU, access resources, and get involved in the international medical community.

We are always looking to expand and update the information posted here.

If you have any questions about global health, please don’t hesitate to contact your NOSMUSC VP Global Health Executives at

What is Global Health?

In a world where 3 billion people are living on less than $2.50 US per day, bearing 90% of the world’s disease burden and yet having access to less than 10% of its health resources, there are still astounding health inequalities. Although the field of Global Health is often equated with that of International Health, there is a growing definition that encompasses much more than health inequalities between populations.

  • The field of Global Health is broadly defined by the International Institute of Medicine (IOM) as “health problems, issues, and concerns that transcend national boundaries may be influenced by circumstances or experiences in other countries, and are best addressed by cooperative actions and solutions.”

  • Many associate Global Health with issues of health inequalities such as water sanitation and malnutrition, but more recently, it has come to encompass broader health issues faced of a global scale, such as urbanization, climate change, and chronic disease.


In the era of globalization, we no longer live in a bubble. The health of Northern Ontarians is tied to factors beyond geographical and national borders. Increases in the flow of people, products, and information between countries and continents are dramatically influencing the world’s health. As a leader in social accountability, NOSMU is ensuring we have skills to improve the health of the populations we serve, both locally (including addressing health inequalities faced by the Indigenous peoples in Northern Ontario) and internationally.

What is the Global Health Committee?

The Global Health Committee is a group of students who meet regularly throughout the year to discuss and plan Global Health events, initiatives and opportunities for NOSMU students. The Global Health Committee is chaired by the VP Global Health Sr and Jr and consists of the Local Officer of Indigenous Health Sr and Jr, Local Officer of Exchanges Sr and Jr, Local Officers of Sexual and Reproductive Health (2), Global Health and Climate Change Advocate, and our Local Officer of Global Health Education. 

Indigenous Health

Global health has been defined as “an area for study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving health equity for all people worldwide” (Koplan et al, 2009). Building upon this, a newer definition of global health was proposed – global health is “collaborative trans-national research and action for promoting health for all” (Beaglehole & Bonita 2010)

Indigenous populations within Canada are in many senses unique nations with their own government/leadership, language, culture and land base. For a number of complex and inter-related reasons, Indigenous people experience higher burden of disease and lower health status than other Canadians. Considering the definitions of global health, reducing health inequalities and improving the health status of Indigenous peoples falls squarely within the goals of global health.


At NOSMU, Indigenous health is emphasized specifically in our curriculum. Northern and Rural Health is Theme 1 of the five themes to our curriculum. We learn about Indigenous health in our Case Based Learning (CBL), through Community and Interprofessional Learning (CIL) placements, and through the Integrated Community Experience (ICE) of Module 106. During ICE 106, students spend 4 weeks living in Indigenous communities to learn about Indigenous culture and history, and to understand some of the health issues facing Indigenous peoples.


Check out NOSMU’s Indigenous Affairs website for more information on NOSMU’s Indigenous focus, Indigenous communities in Ontario, and NOSMU’s 106 placement.


Beaglehole R & Bonita R. 2010. What is global health? Global Health Action 3:5142. (Open Access)

Koplan J et al. 2009. Towards a common definition of global health. Lancet 373:1993-5.

Global Health Community Resource List

Click HERE for the Global Health Community Resource document, a list of community based resources developed by the NOSMU Global Health Committee to aid in service navigation when providing care.

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