40 Years of Global Health Action

robin davisRobin Davis 76MN RN



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In 1980, Robin Davis 76MN RN had the good fortune to represent at a meeting in Washington, D.C., the International Nursing Services Association (INSA)—a nonprofit founded by Emory School of Nursing leaders to train nurses from other countries.

There she met an Episcopal priest from Haiti who described the need for community health workers in his country. Thus began Davis's foray into developing in-country workshops and programs to broaden health workers' skills in primary care, leadership, program management, and community outreach.

"INSA started the community health program in Haiti that is still a flagship program of Global Health Action (GHA)," says Davis, who became GHA executive director in 1985. "At the same time, we were getting similar requests in India from nurses, doctors, and other health professionals who had skills for clinical facilities but were not trained to do community-based outreach and primary health care."

Today, GHA has an in-country staff in Haiti, and INSA/India operates as a sister program of GHA, which marked its 40th anniversary in 2012. Since its founding, GHA has trained thousands of community health leaders in 97 countries. It specializes in community-based health care delivery, women's health, reproductive health, program management, and rural development in underserved areas of the world.

GHA is rooted in the School of Nursing through the leadership of its founders, the late Ada Fort, longtime dean of the School of Nursing, and Virginia Proctor 50G 50T, former director of student development. Established in 1972, INSA was renamed Global Health Action in 1993.

Those trained by GHA have become chief nursing officers in their own countries. Still others safeguard health in communities and villages with limited resources in the face of political and environmental challenges. "It's been wonderful to see over the years how health professionals and community leaders continue the work that we help them start," says Davis.

Kamal Das, a GHA program graduate in India, became director of nursing for a government-owned hospital in Bhopal. In 1984, when a chemical plant leaked deadly gas in the densely populated city of Bhopal, Das mobilized the hospital to respond. She received the National Nursing Award of India that year for her efforts. "The award was presented by Mother Teresa," Davis recalls.

Prior to the formation of INSA, Davis led the skills lab and taught clinical pediatrics at the School of Nursing. During her tenure with GHA, she has served on the board of directors of the Global Health Council (GHC) in Washington and as national board president of Christian Connections for International Health. She recently co-chaired the Faith and Global Health Caucus of GHC.

After 40 years, Davis still draws inspiration from the leaders behind INSA. "We have had stellar leadership in the School of Nursing for so many years," says Davis. "We are indebted to Ada Fort and Virginia Proctor for their vision that created and nurtured Global Health Action."—SWK

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