Annual GlobeMed Summit kicks off its ‘call to action’

Sean Lavery

“Potential” was the key buzzword at the kick-off dinner for GlobeMed’s 5th annual Global Health Summit.

Nearly 250 students gathered at the Woman’s Club of Evanston for an event GlobeMed Summit team member Jill Shah said marked a turning point for the still-fresh organization. Started just five years ago by Northwestern students, GlobeMed has expanded to 32 locations at colleges and universities across the country, with plans for 14 more locations next year.

Shah, a Weinberg sophomore, said the rapid growth has been incredibly exciting, but the goal for this year’s summit, titled “Call to Action: Leveraging History to Build a Movement,” is to turn a mass of passion into tangible results for the realm of global health.

“We’re poised to be a powerful force in building this movement,” Shah said. “We want to draw lessons from a rich history of other social movements.”

Summit team member and Weinberg junior Neal Emery said the subject of global health has grown in public consciousness as disparities in healthcare become more apparent.

“Five or ten years ago there were only a handful of global health programs at universities,” Emery said. “Now there are over a hundred.”

Emery said one of the issues global health activists face is a lack of human infrastructure, or network of people working toward their goal, a problem he said GlobeMed’s building movement could help solve. He said many individuals find themselves passionate about certain issues, but are tied down by the inability act upon those feelings. GlobeMed’s goal, he said, is to galvanize their passion into action.

Each GlobeMed outlet has a partner organization with which they work closely on a specific issue of global health. Locations span from Africa to Latin America, and a recent partnership was formed with an organization in Alabama.

“You don’t have to leave the United States to get to areas with health disparities,” Emery said.

The group brought in Andre Banks, co-founder of LGBT rights organization “All Out”, to discuss brand building and the structure of a 21st century movement.

“I think when we talk about movements, people tend to look backward for inspiration,” Banks said.

Events will last all weekend, and a keynote delivered by the Director of Health and Human Rights for Human Rights Watch, Dr. Joseph AMonday, will take place in Leverone Auditorium Friday at 1:15 pm. Emery said Amon is well-equipped to address the summit, due to his research on health inequity for the spread of HIV.

Shah said she hopes the summit will be a transformational moment for the global health movement.

“This is a significant opportunity for our network and a pivotal point for growth in our organization and the movement,” she said. “We want to give students a voice.”

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