Saturday, December 6, 2014

Exciting Week for GlobeMed

At this week's GlobeMed meeting, we were lucky to have two special guests come speak to us. The first was Dr. Andy Anderson, who gave a presentation on how geographic information systems (GIS) can be applied to public health.

The first example he used was the 1854 Broad Street pump cholera outbreak in London, where 616 people died from a contagion of unknown cause. It occurred primarily in areas with older housing that lacked proper plumbing and sewage. Many people believed the sickness was due to noxious vapors wafting north from the Thames River, the city’s sewer, or was a reemergence of the black plague. However, after anesthesiologist John Snow (shout out to house Snow!) mapped the deaths, he found that the victims all lived within walking distance from the Broad Street pump, the neighborhood’s water supply that had been contaminated by a broken cesspit. Now we know that cholera originated in Northern India and was spread through global trade, and that prevention of the bacterium comes from clean water systems.

Other uses of maps in public health include discovering a relationship between trauma deserts and mortality in Chicago, tracing fluoride in water supplies, and finding no spatial or temporal clustering for early onset breast cancer. Dr. Anderson also talked about supporting Ebola first responders in West Africa through OpenStreetMap, a website that allows users to map high-risk areas.

Our second speaker was Megan Lyster, who is teaching an interterm course called Social Enterprise in Action. In the course, students will work with two partner organizations, Amherst Survival Center and Book and Plow Farm. With Amherst Survival Center, students will help develop a social media campaign to support diaper need awareness, and with Book and Plow Farm, students will research and recommend a new product that will preserve extra produce during the summer.

House Points Tally

Farmer: 27
Nightingale: 28 
Snow: 22
Barton: 23

Last but not least, clubs and groups are coming together for the Global Health 10-Day Event! GlobeMed is sponsoring the NGO Panel, the “This I Believe” campaign, and the Human Rights Day Dinner.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thanksgiving is just around the corner...

Hello GM members and supporters :)

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and that means, after a few more days, we'll finally be able to relax and unwind with family and friends while counting all of our blessings~

But before that, let's not forget all that we did in our past staff meeting!

We began our meeting by breaking off into our houses and competing with each other by seeing which group had the best elevator pitch! The catch was, however, the whole team had to collectively give their elevator pitch in 1 minute, and each member was allowed to say only one sentence during his/her turn. Nonetheless, it was fun to see how each member gave his/her own spin on an aspect of GlobeMed. Without a doubt, every single one of us had gotten closer to becoming seasoned veterans at giving GM-worthy elevator pitches after the activity! 

Thereafter, Courage, one of our ghU coordinators, led us in a discussion on the documentary, A Place at the Table (check out last week's blog to learn more!). Many of our members articulated great points about the documentary and also raised a few remarkable questions. Some of the main ideas were:

  • We realized that, after watching this documentary, we become more aware of our own eating habits and tendencies and the privileges we often take for granted here at Amherst College.
  • There is the ironic reality that people are sometimes worse off being employed at a workplace that pays minimum wage than being unemployed, because they no longer qualify for food stamp programs but still do not earn enough money to buy healthy foods for their families.
  • Many children, who perform poorly at school because they are hungry or malnourished, are often overlooked and considered to be "problem students" by teachers who fail to recognize the actual problem. 
  • The government, instead of charities or NGOs, need to be responsible for its citizens and re-start programs that were successful in tackling food insecurity in the past.
  • There's a correlation between obesity and food insecurity in the States that needs to be recognized.
  • Most of the time, the voices of people who suffer from food insecurity are not heard by the general public.
In Partnership, Imani showed us a short YouTube clip that provided a very human look into gang violence in El Salvador. BBC interviewed a man named Duke, a member of the gang called "Calle 18." The largest gangs that exist in El Salvador, including Calle 18, actually originated from Los Angeles, CA. The video portrayed the camaraderie and support that exist between gang members. These qualities may help explain why many members join gangs in the first place. Many of the members are recruited at a very young age and are led to believe that the gang is their family. What was most shocking was the open, unashamed attitude many of the members held. This implies just how much gang life is integrated into Salvadoran society and reveals how difficult it will be to stop gang activity, especially when the present infrastructure lacks the necessary resources or authority to effectively combat the issue.

On a brighter note, El Pastoral de la Salud has also shared with us plans for the new upcoming project! The project aims to create a system which will allow local volunteers to be trained in very specialized ways to better their own communities in a 2-year program. Also, 10 volunteers will be chosen to become new leaders in their communities by joining the local parish. We are very excited for this project and pumped up to start campaigning to make this project become a reality! This will be the perfect incentive for us to start raising funds via individual givings and business outreach.

Last but not least, here is a rundown of house points:
Team (Paul) Farmer: 30
Team (Florence) Nightingale: 27
Team (John) Snow: 24
Team (Clara) Barton: 19

Until next time! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Place at the Table

In our last staff meeting, we watched an informative documentary - filmed in 2012 - that focused on the hunger crisis that still exists in the Unites States today. The documentary told a powerful narrative largely through the stories of three people suffering from food insecurity:
  • Barbie, a single Philadelphia mother who grew up in poverty and is trying to provide a better life for her two children;
  • Rosie, a Colorado fifth-grader who often has to depend on friends and neighbors to feed her and has trouble concentrating in school; and
  • Tremonica, a Mississippi second-grader whose asthma and health problems are exacerbated by the largely-empty calories her hard-working mother can afford.

We learned that there were about 50 million Americans who were food insecure in 2012. This was approximately 1 in 6 of the overall population, with the proportion of children facing food insecurity even higher at about 1 in 4. 

The documentary revealed a poignant truth that hunger poses a serious threat to the socioeconomic and cultural dynamics in the U.S. The reason why people are going hungry is not because of food shortages but because of poverty. While charities can alleviate suffering, long-term transformations are shaped by public policy. 

Additionally, watching these stories has not only taught us new facts about our country but has also presented a call-to-action to make a difference. Our goal should be to make healthy food available and affordable for everyone. It would also be instructive to see how comparable food insecurity issues in El Salvador are to the issues in the U.S. and also see how these issues can be tackled.

Thus, we look forward to more discussions about "A Place at the Table" and the hunger crisis at large at our next week's staff meeting!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

It’s November!

This week’s staff meeting was kicked off by a tally of points for the four houses, with House Farmer in the lead. Points were awarded for tabling at GlobeMed events as well as winning various activities during meeting time.

We then turned over to ghU and wrote our reactions towards a cartoon of black and white Ebola patients. Continuing the discussion of Ebola, we watched a news video regarding Kaci Hickox, an American nurse returning from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, who was quarantined against her wishes. She felt she had no reason to be quarantined because she showed no symptoms and tested negative for the disease. GlobeMed members were split into two teams, arguing for and against the use of quarantine.  Our conclusion was that while quarantine prevents the spread of Ebola to some degree, it also causes unnecessary fear among the public and inconveniences for returning volunteers.

In addition, partnerships created an informative, artistic, and thought provoking picture gallery regarding gang violence in El Salvador. After going around the gallery, members reflected on the causes, effects, and current status of gang activity. Topics of conversation included the mental health of gang members, the treatment of women, and if it was possible to leave a gang. 

On another note, we will be continuing our trend of successful campaigns during Homecoming this weekend. Come check out our koozies!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Happy Halloween

Hello Everyone!

At this week's staff meeting, our executive board had decided to switch things up a bit. While we usually start off with a fun community building exercise, this Monday, we launched right into an interesting ghU/Partnerships activity.

Our club members were divided into four groups, each tasked to perform one skit encompassing an aspect of El Salvadoran society. One team focused on the "chicken-and-egg" situation present in El Salvador in regards to the economy and gang violence. The dilemma was that the lack of income encourages youth to join gangs for quick money, yet increased gang violence hinder any investments that can spur on the nation's economy. Another team presented an interesting court case between the Coca Cola Company and representatives of child laborers. This skit revealed the harsh reality of how child laborers are being hired by local companies, whose patron is Coca Cola, and suffer from unfair, dangerous working conditions. Coca Cola has yet to be held responsible. The third team acted in a hilarious game show hosted by Caesar Flickerman (a.k.a our very own communications director, David Dickinson). Caesar Flickerman interviewed a woman named Daisy, who has successfully secured a job that allowed her to provide income alongside her husband. Last but not least, one team performed a very artistic representation of how a teacher in El Salvador teaches her students: fun, creative yet informative ways.

The night ended with our staff being divided into four "houses" (a system similar to the one found in Harry Potter). Named after a famous figure in public health, each team drew an emblem to represent themselves. We are hoping that our members will find a closer knit of people inside the club as all of us try to earn points for our house during ghU and more!

It was, all in all, a very enjoyable evening. We look forward to GlobeMed's Halloween party this friday and the many more events to come.

Also, congratulations to Ricky Choi for being selected to be this year's GROW coordinator!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Color Wars

Hi all!

We had a fantastic turnout for Color Wars this semester; pictures are below and on our Facebook page!

Thanks to your support, we raised $180 for our partner at this event. Look out for another one in the spring!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Early ghU Reflections

For our first meetings this year, we’ve moved the Global Health U presentations and reflections to the beginning of the meeting and started the discussions online. These have been really engaging so far, so thanks to staff members old and new for their interest!

So far we’ve thought about service organization models, the ebola crisis, and personal fitness. We started with members sharing their experiences in other organizations like GlobeMed, comparing what we like about each model and how each can perform better. Hopefully we’ll keep this in mind all year! Feel free to comment or speak up at a meeting whenever you see room for improvement.

Obviously, the ebola crisis has a lot of relevance to our club interests. Specifically, we have looked at the cultural effects of ebola, which we examined through the lens of the pop song NPR has reported on: This will be important to keep in mind as we explore public health issues; cultural considerations need to made along with statistical or biological ones as policy is shaped.

Thanks for the interest so far! We’re looking forward to a great year of productive dialogue. Keep thinking critically and keep contributing!