Elective Courses in Global Surgery for Undergraduate Medical Students: A Narrative Review and a Proposal for European Universities





Medical Students, General Surgery/education, Global Health, International Cooperation, Curriculum


Global surgery (GS) is the discipline of improving health by expanding universal access to surgical care. GS is an essential part of the global health (GH) concept, but it is almost invariably neglected in academic settings. This review assesses the engagement of undergraduate medical students in the field of GS. PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science were searched with focus on electives organized by universities and only eight results were found. The scientific literature on this topic is scarce and uneven, and the number of students involved in these experiences is considerably low. Although few, the existing electives prove that building sustainable and useful GS projects is possible and that both students from high-income countries (HICs) and low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) can extensively benefit from these experiences. Given the currently low involvement of European universities and medical schools, of which the authors are part, this review aims at encouraging European universities to organize GS electives for their students. In addition, this review suggests key activities to undertake in such electives including theoretical sections, research projects, and bilateral international rotations between HICs and LMICs.


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Author Biographies

Giovanni Rossi, Department of Health Sciences, Medicine and Surgery, San Paolo Hospital Location, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.

Giovanni Rossi is an Italian medical student attending the last year at the University of Milan.

Gioele Fusato, Department of Health Sciences, Medicine and Surgery, San Paolo Hospital Location, University of Milan, Milan, Italy

Gioele Fusato is an Italian medical student attending the last year at the University of Milan.

Tindara Scirocco, Department of Health Sciences, Medicine and Surgery, San Paolo Hospital Location, University of Milan, Milan, Italy

Tindara Scirocco is an Italian medical student attending the last year at the University of Milan.

Paolo Rodi, Department of Surgery, Campus Virchow-Klinikum and Campus Charité Mitte, Charité-Univerditätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Paolo Rodi is an italian MD from University of Milan currently resident in general surgery at Charité University Hospital, Berlin, for many years ranked as best European hospital. He is attending the MSc European Master in Disaster Medicine and focuses his research efforts on global surgery and health, and disaster management.

Simone Villa, Centre for Multidisciplinary Research in Health Science (MACH), University of Milan, Milan, Italy

Simone Villa is an Italian MD working as a research fellow at the University of Milan on Tuberculosis, Covid-19, and Global Health. He is currently studying epidemiology at LSHTM.

Mario C. B. Raviglione, Centre for Multidisciplinary Research in Health Science (MACH), University of Milan, Milan, Italy

Mario C. Raviglione is professor of Global Health at the University of Milan, Italy. He was Director of the Global Tuberculosis Programme at WHO in 2003-2017 and had worked at WHO since 1991. A graduate from Turin University, Italy, he trained in internal medicine, infectious diseases, and AIDS at Cabrini Medical Centre & NY Medical College, New York, and Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston. He is one of the 10 most cited authors worldwide in the TB field. His work consists of some 350 publications in journals and books, including the past 8 editions of the Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine and chapters in public health books. His production has been cited more than >67,000 times and his h-index is 111. He has been Honorary Professor at the Queen Mary University of London, UK, since November 2019. He was Professeur Titulaire at the Global Studies Institute of the University of Geneva in 2019-2020.


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2022-12-31 — Updated on 2023-02-16

How to Cite

Rossi, G., Fusato, G., Scirocco, T., Rodi, P., Villa, S., & Raviglione, M. C. B. . (2023). Elective Courses in Global Surgery for Undergraduate Medical Students: A Narrative Review and a Proposal for European Universities. International Journal of Medical Students, 10(4), 395–404. https://doi.org/10.5195/ijms.2022.1598