Teaching cultural Competency in Global Health

By Maimunat Alex-Adeomi Moderator | 10 Nov, 2016

Dear colleagues, please see the information below on a webinar on Teaching cultural competency in Global Health. I believe this is useful for members on the platform.

We are delighted to announce an upcoming free webinar about Teaching Cultural Competency in Global Health which will be held on December 6th, 11am-12pm Eastern Time. The webinar is designed for students and professionals, and it will include pearls of wisdom and essential guidance from seven expert panelists. Gain insight about teaching cultural competency, strategies that can be incorporated by students and professionals, cultural competency expectations in the global health workplace, among other topics.

The live webinar will be recorded, and as long as you register, you will automatically receive a link to the webinar recording when it becomes available. Those who attend live will have the opportunity to submit questions to the panelists. You may also see our other past and upcoming free webinars about global health and social entrepreneurship at http://www.uniteforsight.org/webinars
Teaching Cultural Competency in Global Health Webinar
December 6th, 11am-12pm Eastern Time
Register at https://slate.uniteforsight.org/register/dec62016
Learn from leading experts about teaching cultural competency and incorporating strategies and lessons into global health engagement. The webinar will include guidance and advice from five panelists, as well as ample opportunity to ask the speakers questions. Gain insight about teaching cultural competency, strategies that can be incorporated by students and professionals, cultural competency expectations in the global health workplace, etc.

Webinar Expert Panelists:
David Boyd, Associate Professor of the Practice, Global Health, Duke University
Paul Ellingstad, Managing Partner, PTI Advisors
Vanessa Kerry, Founder and CEO, Seed Global Health
Jordan Levy, Chief External Relations Officer, Ubuntu Education Fund
David Pelletier, Professor of Nutrition Policy, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University
Lisa Russell, Emmy-Winning Filmmaker and Global Health Advocate, Governess Films
Richard Skolnik, Former Lecturer, Department of Health Policy and Management, Yale School of Public Health
Moderated by Jennifer Staple-Clark, Founder and CEO, Unite For Sight

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Pierre Bush, PhD Moderator Replied at 4:48 PM, 13 Nov 2016

Hello Maimunat,
Thank you for this information.

Sungano Mharakurwa Moderator Replied at 8:31 AM, 14 Nov 2016

This is a helpful resource. Thanks Maimunat for sharing.

Isabelle Celentano Replied at 3:02 PM, 15 Nov 2016

Thanks for sharing Maimunat. What is often referred to as "cultural competency" is an extremely important concept in global health, but I find the term somewhat problematic. When I think of a competency, I'm often reminded of checklists or hard-and-fast rules to learn. But how can anyone possibly be competent in cultures other than their own?

I was recently introduced to the term "cultural humility" (I've attached some resources here.) The authors state: "Given the complexity of multiculturalism, it is beneficial to understand cultural competency as a process rather than an end product." Have others begun using this term in health practice or education?

I'm sure the webinar will be an excellent resource on multiculturalism in global health, but as with all things health-related, the terminology and language we use affects our perception. I hope these resources can be helpful to others!

Attached resources:

Ruth Staus Replied at 4:23 PM, 15 Nov 2016


Thank you for bringing this up. I am a long-time nurse practitioner who is currently studying medical anthropology and all of my professors so far have said that this concept is not valid. So far I have not seen it discussed in the anthropology literature except to say that it is not a valid concept and we should not be using it. I heard Paul Farmer speak at a conference in April and he was very adamant that this is not a valid concept. He talked about the fact that despite 30 plus years working in Haiti, and being completely fluent in French and Haitian Creole, he is in no way, shape, or form "competent" in that culture. Arthur Kleinman has written several articles in "Academic Medicine" that also refutes "cultural competence" as a valid concept. Quentin Eichbaum has also discussed this in his articles regarding global health competencies. They all talk about either cultural humility or cultural awareness. At this point, given that some of the best minds in anthropology ( a discipline that is dedicated to the study of culture) and global health are saying that this is not a valid concept, I am inclined to believe them.

Maimunat Alex-Adeomi Moderator Replied at 9:01 PM, 15 Nov 2016

Hello Isabelle and Ruth,

Thank you for your very insightful thoughts and bringing up cultural awareness and cultural humility.

I do agree that "cultural competence" as a term is somewhat problematic. And some would argue if "perfect is the enemy of good in this case" when there is clearly a need to address the issue of multiculturalism in global health. Culture as we all know can be learned over time and I like the point you raised Isabelle where you state that it should be viewed as a process and not an end point in itself.

Thank you for the extra resources Isabelle, I will be sure to add that to my library and introduce this argument/point of view to my network.

Thank you both once again.

Isabelle Celentano Replied at 12:59 PM, 16 Nov 2016

Thank you both! Ruth–wonderful to hear from someone studying this. I'm including one of the Arthur Kleinman's pieces on the cultural competency problem for those who are interested, it's a great read with a lot of other relevant resources.

Attached resource: