Selfless is inspiring global health leaders of the future. In partnership with Tropical Health & Education Trust (THET) and UKAID, Selfless’ One Day Leadership Summit in September 2015 brought together 100 students with a shared passion for global health.

Jacob King, a medical student at Plymouth University, left our One Day conference feeling inspired to make a difference. When an opportunity arose at his medical school to travel to Ethiopia in November 2015, he thought this would be a great chance to share his knowledge.

Accompanied by a number of other healthcare professionals from the South West of England, he visited a new partner medical school set up in Ethiopia. The medical students here are accustomed to what he described as a particularly “volatile curriculum”, meaning lots of free time within the placement; intense days ran alongside days of calm.

After noticing the inequality in access to psychiatric care within Ethiopia, he took it upon himself to run his own workshop, adapting materials from the One Day Summit on Mental Health and Stigma.

Only 1.7% of health expenditure within Ethiopia is spent on mental health services, consisting of 53 psychiatric outpatient facilities and one mental health hospital in the entire country (population of 94 million). This makes only 0.02 psychiatric doctors per 100,000 of the population.

Many of the Ethiopian students had learnt about mental health during their academic studies (only 2% of their academic studies focus on such issues), however many had never come into contact with a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse, with the closest clinics usually hundreds of kilometres away.

Jacob noted Ethiopian medical students were comfortable reciting facts about health but lacked practical experience. This was evident when educating the students on how to use medical simulation models, such as venipuncture or CPR, during their original placement.

The majority of the Ethiopian medical students had an understanding of the topics discussed within his workshop, however Jacob saw that there was real value for both himself and his peers in discussing mental health and different cultural perceptions.

Jacob found the mental health workshop to be “an absolute highlight of the trip!”

“At first I wasn’t sure if I was making any impact, but I was able to spark conversation with the medical students who don’t often talk about mental health issues. Even with the basic resources, with chalk and a blackboard, I could deliver a workshop. This, alongside the One Day Summit, has definitely inspired me to continue pursuing a career within global health”

Selfless would like to congratulate Jacob and all of our Global Health Ambassadors on their incredible work.

Spotlight on Global Health Ambassador – Jacob King

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