Lahoud Touma completed his medical degree at McGill University and is currently a PGY-4 resident in the adult neurology program at the University of Montreal. He will then be pursuing a neurohospitalist fellowship at Stanford University. His research interests are primarily in epidemiology and acute neurological care. He has worked extensively with refugees both locally and abroad, especially during the Syrian crisis. With his team in Montreal, he is developing a telemedicine consultation program that will be used in the Caribbeans and in Senegal.
Q: What sparked your interest in global health?
When I was in high school, a severe earthquake hit Haiti causing immeasurable damage. Despite the prompt international response, it made me realize how social inequalities made it difficult for motivated individuals to help in the region. It was a source of motivation to attempt to close the huge gap in my future career. During my training, I am very grateful for working in well-resourced hospitals and having access to cutting edge technology. It reminds me daily of my initial dream: offering quality care all over the globe.
Q: What steps did you take to seek out resources or mentorship in the field of global health?
Reading about global health is a great first step. I highly recommend Mountains Beyond Mountains as an inspiring introduction and then One by One by One: Making a Difference Amid a Billion Problems, which is an outstanding example in neurology. Looking for mentors in your own institutions and even internationally allows you to find existing opportunities and progressively acquire experience before initiating your own projects. When starting residency, I asked my colleagues for neurologists working in global health and was surprised to find amazing projects around the corner!
Q: What are some of your favorite memories from your past global health experiences?
My best memories are always about meeting people. From welcoming a Syrian family fleeing the war at the airport in Montreal to encountering role models at international conferences, working in global health guarantees unforgettable moments.
Image 1: Dr. Touma witnessing the birth of the first baby of a refugee family he had worked with for several years. Image 2: An exhibition at McGill University about the physical and psychological consequences of war to raise awareness about refugee health.
Image courtesy: Dr. Lahoud Touma
Q: Do you have any words of advice to other students or trainees who are interested in global neurology?
I am still an amateur in the field but can tell you that it is extremely rewarding. You can directly impact patients in need who would not have received such care without your contribution. Don’t hesitate to contact people in the field, everyone is warm and friendly. There are tons of initiatives that you can join, with the goal of making the world more equitable, one neuron at a time!
"The idea that some lives matter is the root of all that is wrong with the world." - Paul Farmer