Online Program

Liberation Medicine & Public Health Praxis: Reflection, Theory and Action of Doctors for Global Health

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 4:30 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

Sarah Smith, BA, Department of Community Health Sciences and the Latin American Studies Interdepartmental Program, UCLA, Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA

Caitlin Lassus, MD, Family Medicine, ERIE FAMILY HEALTH CENTER, Chicago, IL
Liberation Medicine is defined as, The conscious and conscientious use of health to promote human dignity and social justice.The framework of Liberation Medicine was born in the early 1990s when doctor Lanny Smith, who was invited by refugees in rural El Salvador to help rebuild their communities soon after the civil war ended, sought to define the type of “medicine” he was practicing alongside community members. Years later, Smith founded Doctors for Global Health (DGH), a non-profit organization made up of hundreds of volunteers from all over the world who work on a variety of international health projects. DGH practices Liberation Medicine, a framework that has its roots in liberation psychology, social medicine, liberation theology, human rights, and participatory research.

This presentation will explore how liberation medicine can inform public health praxis with a special emphasis on the essential, but often neglected component of “Reflection.” The “Theory” of Liberation Medicine is best understood by analyzing its historical roots. We will describe the “Action” of how liberation medicine functions in the context of global public health work by utilizing several case studies.  Finally, we will argue that what sets DGH with its framework of Liberation Medicine apart from other international relief organizations and models is its particular process of “Reflection” where intimate, long-term relationships with community members inform decision making, problem solving and future planning for the organization’s public health projects.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Provision of health care to the public
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Define the framework of "Liberation Medicine": Theory, Action and Reflection. Differentiate how this approach compares to other international health relief efforts.

Keyword(s): Community-Based Partnership & Collaboration, International Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am on the board of directors for Doctors for Global Health and this is my area of study
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.