The Global Health Narratives project is a decade-long effort to design global health curriculum for middle and high school students. This project has resulted in three books, around 100 narratives, and accompanying teaching guides to allow students and educators to engage with the text.
The first book, Global Health Narratives: A Reader for Youth (2009, University of New Mexico Press), reflects central themes in global health – from addressing issues of great health and wealth inequality to deconstructing the complexities of affliction among the poor in poor countries. For instance, one narrative contextualizes the onset of malaria and different ways in which people perceive malarial symptoms in rural Mali.
The second book, Environmental Health Narratives: A Reader for Youth (2012, UNMP), brings issues of earth, environment, and health into context, incorporating sections on “water”, “air”, “foods and farms”, “climate change”, “urbanization”, and “human impact.” Narratives reach as widely as possible geographically as well as topically in order to foster dialogue of diverse issues from varied settings. The final book has recently appeared.
Community Health Narratives: A Reader (2015, UNMP) provides opportunities to discuss some of the trickier hot-button issues in health and health care, such as the role of social relationships, gender and sexuality, mental health, violence, primary prevention, and unequal access to health care in perpetuating health inequities.
The level of sophistication and reading level increases with each book, and the volumes have shown that they can be useful tools in sparking dialogue about complex health inequities among young people -- twelve to twenty year-olds. Even more, community health workers, social workers, and nurses in the United States have used the final book on community health to bring complex issues they see in their work to the table for discussion. The potential use of these books of stories --whether alone or together, as well as the accompanying web-based teaching guide--can have great benefits is prompting both awareness and in depth discussion.