By Sabrina Truc, P2 Student

We live in a globalized interdependent world where everything from diseases to cures easily cross borders. There’s never been a more relevant time to study global health.

This fall, 61 students of the Touro College of Pharmacy, NY, enrolled in Dr. Joyce Addo-Atuah’s Global Health course to do just that. The course, which examines disparities in global disease burdens, places an emphasis on the role of the pharmacist and its impact on the world stage. As the United Nations is a key player in global health, about half the class elected to attend a tour of its headquarters on Monday, December 3rd.

The tour began with an introduction to Secretary Generals of the UN, both past and present, and the role the UN plays in global health issues. Our guide, originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, showed us what the UN and its committees have achieved in the past, what they are trying to do now, and the possibilities for the future.

Of all the things we saw, two were probably the most compelling. Watching a General Assembly meeting in session, history in the making, was just plain cool. And the symbolic display of each of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was especially relevant, as we had just learned about them in class. MDGs provide a framework for promoting global health in the context of development. Most of the targets of MDG4 (Reduce Child Mortality), MDG5 (Improve Maternal Health), and MDG6 (Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other Diseases) require access to safe, effective and affordable medications, as well as pharmacists to ensure that the right medications, in the right doses and formulations, are received by the right patients at the right time and are used correctly to achieve maximum therapeutic benefits.

This course taught us that pharmacists in global health have many responsibilities: They’ve assisted national governments in developing their National Essential Medicines Lists, managed pharmaceuticals in under-served populations, and coordinated pharmaceutical services during disasters and relief situations.

Wherever we choose to work as future pharmacists in this globalized world, we are all looking forward to using our knowledge and skills to make a difference in peoples’ well-being.