I’ve been to India a handful of times, but this most recent trip has been the most meaningful to me. Before going to India, my definition of global health was to identify preexisting health disparities in a specific disadvantaged community and then working towards achieving health equity in that community. Since spending the past few weeks in India in different health care settings and participated in nightly discussions of global health readings, I realized that my definition was too narrow. Today, I would expand my definition of global health to achieving health equity for all individuals in order to promote the overall health of the entire globe.
Now comes the hard part…how can I personally help improve health equity in a sustainable way? I’ve always dreamed of developing a health center or clinic in the village where my parents grew up in Punjab. I thought it would be a great way of giving back to a community that helped shape my parents, and inevitably helped shape me. Fortunately, my time in India made me realize that my good intentions may not be welcome, and that my well wishes may potentially even be harmful. I realized that I need to understand a community’s needs and determine what resources are available and lacking, before I can even figure out how I can play a role in their health system. I also learned the importance of constantly adapting to the changing need of a community.
This trip has taught me to think critically about what global health is and how I’ll decide to play a role in helping promote health equity.