By Wendy Sarubbi | November 15, 2011 12:59 pm

The UCF College of Medicine is sponsoring an Inaugural Global Health Conference Saturday to encourage medical institutions across Florida to support global health awareness. The event will feature seminars, simulation sessions and discussions on best practices for sustaining efforts to provide medical care across the globe.

Invited guests include faculty members, medical, nursing, engineering and public health students from across the state. Events begin at 8 a.m. and will all take place at UCF’s medical education building, 6850 Lake Nona Blvd., Orlando, 32827.

The College of Medicine’s Global Health initiative and MedPACT (Medical Students Providing Across Continents) are dedicated to the idea that the study of global health issues and participation in international medical experiences provide outstanding medical, cultural and service learning opportunities for students and faculty members.

Speakers include:

• Dr. Eloise Harman, professor of medicine at the University of Florida, who has been funding and leading medical trips to Haiti since 1996.  Dr. Harman has been nominated for the 2011 Spirit of Gainesville award for her devotion to global health and unselfish commitment to her patients.

• Dr. Tania Velez, a second-year Family Medicine Resident at Florida Hospital in Orlando. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Florida, Dr. Velez has participated in medical mission work in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Thailand and Panama. She has also done elective rotations at Srinakharinwirot University, Thailand, and Quito, Mondaña, and Esmeraldas, Ecuador.

• Nestor de Armas serves as chair of Florida Hospital Foundation’s SHARES International. During the past 15 years, SHARES has evolved from an organization primarily dedicated to carrying out short-term medical missions to one focused on partnering with local organizations to solve local child health problems.

• Dr. Michel J. Dodard is medical director of the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) at the Miller School of Medicine (University of Miami).  For the past eight years, he has been active in Project Medishare, a volunteer international health program, and has served as the Principal Investigator of an educational grant to sponsor the training of family physicians in Haiti.

A goal of the conference is to identify ways to make international medical efforts sustainable. “The current generation of medical students has a tremendous interest in making their service efforts have a sustained benefit for the communities they serve,” explained Dr. Judith Simms-Cendan, UCF associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of international health programs for the medical school. “They are aware of issues of cultural competency, finances and working directly with leadership in the local communities to ensure success of international programs.”

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