Amidst scarcity and inequity, they find hope.
Recently, I attended the Emerging Global Leader Institute
, held 7-10 September in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI). Sixty-five leaders ranging from the deputy surgeon general of the United States to nurse practitioners who self-funded their attendance at the institute came together to inform and inspire each other on the challenges and opportunities facing global health. Although the voices of those who presented in a conference room of the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel were soft-spoken, the impact of what they communicated will be felt around the world well into the future.
This was not your typical global health meeting with talking heads bemoaning the woes of the world. Yes, the latest facts about Ebola
were shared, as was information about safety when traveling. The challenges of working with governments with scarce resources were discussed, as were demands of working with those who create the scarcities. All of this in a fair and balanced manner. What emerged from these dialogues was that, no matter the location in the world, the economic status of the country, or the type of government in place, the challenges faced by global health leaders are the same.
Nurses and midwives, who compose 87 percent of the earth’s healthcare workforce, suffer from two main obstacles in their efforts to improve the health of the planet’s population—scarcity and inequity. In many cases, resources needed to provide adequate care are limited by man-made scarcity. Whether politically motivated or for other reasons, this scarcity victimizes those who need help. I recently heard that 1 percent of the world’s cumulative defense budget would cure world hunger. I wonder what impact the same amount would have on world health?
As I recently discussed in my RNL
-published blog, “Does this strike a chord?
,” equity is an often-misunderstood concept. Just because you give individuals or groups an equal amount of something does not mean the distribution is equitable. Often, a group that makes far less than another can make what it receives go much further, simply because the cost of doing business is less. Sometimes, the infrastructure needed to take advantage of the resources bestowed is not in place. When that occurs, the resources may have been more equitably distributed elsewhere.
Coming together in a small group as we did in Washington, with titles left at the door, this group of global visionaries—emerging leaders at all levels of global healthcare—optimistically explored what the future of global health could look like. In discussing scarcity and equity, we bonded as a group and committed ourselves to decreasing lack and increasing opportunity. I am honored to have participated in this esteemed group and have no doubt that our coming together will have a positive impact and turn our connections into global health action.
Special thanks to Antioch University’s PhD in Leadership and Change
program, The Ohio State University College of Nursing
, and UNC Chapel Hill School of Nursing
, contributing sponsors of Emerging Global Leader Institute.
Watch video reflections on STTI's YouTube channel
Nancy E. Glass Andrea Harrison Randall Hyer Marty Makinen Maura MacPhee Gwen Sherwood Jeremy Shiffman Peter Yeo Cathy Catrambone Sophia Iaquinta, Elizabeth Holguin: Part 1 Sophia Iaquinta, Elizabeth Holguin: Part 2 Jennifer Jackson Ayla Landry Michael Simmons: Part 1 Michael Simmons: Part 2
Kenneth W. Dion, PhD, MSN/MBA, RN, founder of Decision Critical, Inc., is treasurer of the board of directors of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. He is past president of the board of trustees of the Foundation of the National Student Nurses' Association and past chair of the board of directors of Sigma Theta Tau International Foundation for Nursing.