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: http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2014/08/19/341412011/shadow-and-d-12-sing-an-infectious-song-about-ebola. 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!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thoughts on Summit

Last week, we got to hear from our chapter members who went to the GlobeMed Global Health Summit at Northwestern. Here's their presentation and a few thoughts:


_focus on building a sustainable program that will be able to be sustained after we leave our partnership
_work on getting high schoolers involved in our initiative`` become a bigger organization

- One of my biggest takeaways was really being able to get a sense of how expansive and supportive the GlobeMed community is. It was amazing to be in a room of over 300 people who are passionate about global health and are working to make a change in the world. There was really a sense of community and family in a room full of strangers, which was such a surreal experience.
- Each of the panelists and the speakers brought something different to the table, a different way of viewing and approaching global health inequality. The importance of collaboration and investing in people was really emphasized - that building a network of people to allow for the exchange of ideas and provide support for NGO’s, grassroots organizations, and individuals is crucial to continue to make strides towards global health equality. This really connects with what we do with our partner organization in El Salvador. Even though fundraising for workshops to teach skills to the community is not as “sexy” as building a school or a medical center, it can make a more long-lasting and sustainable impact. 

The 2014 GlobeMed Summit reaffirmed my commitment to GlobeMed's mission. Part of GlobeMed's official approach is to create "a generation of young people equipped to transform the world." At Summit you can see this idea come to fruition. In small group discussions with collaborative GlobeMed members from around the nation we discussed solutions to the problems other members were facing on their respective campuses. I was also inspired by how many panelists gave us useful information and tangible goals that they challenged us to achieve. For example, during a panel on global health education inequalities, Tomás Magaña, founder of FACES for the Future Coalition, challenged GlobeMed students to be a mentor to younger people and educate them about the importance of global health equity and social justice. Also, the keynote speaker Dr. Prabjhot Singh challenged us to speak our "big ideas" aloud. These calls to action really challenged me to think about my values, goals and "big ideas." Overall, interactions with panelists, speakers and other GlobeMed members made the 2014 GlobeMed Summit and inspirational event that I will always remember. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

GHU Reflection Series: El Salvador

Last week was all about El Salvador. We talked about food, nutrition, and health in the country as a whole (over delicious Salvadoran candies, courtesy of Reynaldo). Some takeaways compiled from the groups:

Malnutrition group
-We discussed what kind of education about nutrition and health is incorporated into the public school systems in El Salvador. We learn about the food pyramid in grade school: does El Salvador have something similar?
-The World Bank reports a correlation between stunting (low height for age) and maternal education. We thought that this makes sense because if a mother has more education she will be able to get a better job and afford more and better food, and her kids will be more likely to get a good education as well.
-We discussed the double burden in El Salvador of undernutrition and overweight.
Food Security group
-We discussed how GMOs might be beneficial when used properly. For example, certain vitamin deficiencies could be remedied with GMO supplements.
-We read about how the economic stratification in El Salvador opposes food security.
-Projects in previous years at Pastoral have addressed some food security issues through fish ponds, chicken coops, vegetable gardens, etc.
-Pastoral designed and lead workshops in which community members get hands on training in the use of fertilizer to bring back to their communities.
-Because much of the land used for growing food is small in area, Sara talked about how fertilizer can help maximize efficiency despite the small size.
-One of Pastoral's challenges in their community has been the lack of arable land for growing food. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

GHU reflection series: Public health in Australia

For this week's GHU, we took a special focus into the public health issues in Australia. Each group tackled a topic, and we came together to share at the end. Here are some of the biggest take away points for each group:

Our group discussed the recent reallocation of resources in Australia's mental health care system. While more funds are being directed toward treating adolescents, disadvantaged populations, and those with chronic, ongoing conditions, the reformulated plan is problematic in decreasing universal access to subsidized treatment sessions with psychologists.

We talked about how to make prostitution safer in Australia (following Sweden’s example of spearheading education and public education campaigns against the dangers of prostitution and trafficking).

Our group spoke about the prevalence of rip currents as a cause of death in Australia. It was surprising to us that rip currents was a public health issue, something that we've never thought about in the US. Similarly, we felt that it was difficult for us to imagine what an effective solution would look like because there is so much that we don't know about the culture surrounding this issue in Australia. 

We talked about what government can do to reduce the many diseases and increase the currently short life span of native Australians. We thought that the government should provide necessary resources to the natives such as education, jobs, mental institution, and food. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

GHU Reflection Series: Obesity

This week, we watched a video about obesity in America, and a few GlobeMed members wanted to reflect on it!

I was shocked that one single grilled cheese sandwich could have 75% of the daily recommended value of sodium. I think regulating sodium uptake is one of the biggest challenges in the American diet because it everywhere but often goes unnoticed. 

I have two comments to make. The first is that nutrition is not only plagued by obesity, but also malnutrition. I have a friend from my highschool who is both anemic and an extremely strict vegan, and she uses a fear of obesity as a justification for failing to provide herself enough nutrition to maintain a reasonable weight and bmi. So, obesity is a large issue, but if helping nutrition is of concern to this group, the whole issue should considered. Secondly, obesity is considered a highly an "american" issue. And while it is true that other places in the world suffer from increased obesity, the immensely high amounts of obesity are due to the quintessence of the american approach to living. In america, everything is always done in a rush to try to fit as much as possible in, and as a result nutrition often falls into the back burners. Rather than stopping to have well planned out meals twice a day, as is the custom in many European and African countries, we have three microwave meals a day and stuff our faces in-between with all kinds of non-perishable snacks. There might be economical or governmental ways of helping the US obesity issue, but it truly comes down to a social issue.

Our ghU discussion about obesity and nutrition reminded me of an amazing documentary I watched on the topic called A Place at the Table. See the trailer here! The film gets at issues of food insecurity in the US at a personal and policy-making level. At Amherst we have constant access to unlimited amounts of nutritious food in our dining hall which makes it hard to take a step back and realize that tens of millions of people in this country can't afford to feed their families. The reliance on low-cost processed foods that limited funds force (particularly through our woefully inadequate food stamps program) is a huge contributor to the obesity epidemic.

I found the video today very interesting because it highlights the lack of awareness about nutrition in America. The woman in the video greatly underestimated the sodium content of her sandwich, which reflects a common trend in the U.S. today: Despite campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of a healthy diet, many Americans still don't read or understand nutritional labels. 

In GHU we learned and discussed a lot about the epidemic of obesity. While it seems like the main goals in overcoming this epidemic are to increase education about and access to nutritional foods, I realized that a smaller portion of the problem also could come from habit. Some people are fortunate enough to have both education and access to healthy foods, but sometimes we still choose to go for the delicious, salty, fatty comfort food. It's not only a matter of providing the right circumstances to make good choices, but also understanding behavior and the difficulty of making big lifestyle changes.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

This I Believe...

During our annual 10 day Global health awareness campaign, we held a lighting event inspired by NPR's "This I Believe" series. On December 10th, the quad was beautifully lit up with string lights and This I Believe statements written by students on campus. Some chapter members also volunteered to write longer statements about what they believed in. Please take some time to read the statements, and perhaps you'll be inspired to reflect on your own fundamental beliefs. 

Ornella Noubissie Wafo ‘16
 I believe in a population that knows about the side effects of globalization. I believe in an active Ministry of Health that educates the people on the health consequences of appealing foreign treats like pizzas and cheeseburgers. I believe in people who are aware that the current epidemic rise in chronic illnesses like diabetes in many African countries is not necessarily because of witchcraft but rather a result of unhealthy food and life choices. I believe in a world where the state/institutions and the people strive together to create a safe, informed and healthy community. 

 Lawrence Yu ‘15 
I believe in tolerance among people. I believe in their having enough empathy not to belittle or think less of others not as fortunate or as well off as them, but to help them better themselves and their lives. We get more done if everyone feels appreciated and wanted, when people feel like they have something to prove to others. By fostering dialogue among different interest groups, ways can be found that can benefit everyone. 

Reynaldo Pena ‘17
I believe in dreams. I believe that we should all have the opportunity to make our dreams true. I believe in the power of education. I believe in its capacity not only for social advancement but also to foster a better understanding of ourselves and the world. I believe in happiness. I believe in humanity, and its capacity to make a positive change in the world.

CJ Bernstein ‘15
I believe that all type one diabetics should have access to the same life-changing resources and technologies. When my little sister was diagnosed with type one diabetes in 2001 at age seven, my family was lucky enough to be able to provide her with the best doctors, the newest technologies (even some that hadn’t been FDA approved yet as part of a trial at Yale), consistent healthy meals, and a strong support system. Jackie has done a fantastic job managing her diabetes and is doing really well. What has always struck me though is that these components of a successful system of managing diabetes are not available to everyone. There are kids in the developing world who don’t have consistent access to insulin and clean syringes. There are kids in America who can’t afford insulin pumps. None of these kids did anything wrong to get diabetes. Their immune systems malfunctioned on no fault of their own. Why should some die from a completely manageable disease? Why should the daily struggle of some type one diabetics be infinitely greater than others? It shouldn’t be. 

Keelin Moehl ‘16
This I believe: I believe everyone should have the freedom to explore. I believe that money or time constraints should not ever hold anyone back from experiencing the unknown. I believe that humans are naturally curious, and that this curiosity should not ever be stifled by the burdens placed upon us by fellow humans, or because of the fear of the unknown. I believe in the words of Dylan Thomas, who tells us we should not go gentle into that good night, and I believe that everyone should feel free enough and confident enough to take a deep breath and take an exhilarating step into the unknown. I believe that inside, we are all extraordinary. 

Scarlet Im ‘17
This I believe: that everyone should have the ability and desire to feel young. I believe that everyone should be able to express that childish wonder with the world in the midst of the responsibilities and struggles of the adult world. We need to hold onto the innocent fascination we felt as children with, for example, our first snowfall or our first day at the beach. We need to hold onto our passions and unhindered ambitions for our dreams. However, to feel young, we must take care of our health. I believe that public health should be a human right that should be advocated in all countries. Only when a person is healthy, can he or she explore aspects of life outside of mere survival needs. Being healthy correlates positively with feelings of happiness, and I know that one of the aspects of youth that the older population is jealous of is a child’s health (and his or her energy). While it is wise to grow maturely with proper ethics, I believe we should promote physical and mental health so that all of us could stay young at heart.

Emily Bai ‘16
This I believe in the power of human interactions to enrich our lives and promote wellness. I believe that it has the capability to encourage a struggling student, to bring peace to a community, to mend relationships, to heal a patient… Whether it’s a gentle touch or a rowdy fight, having those shared experiences are critical in tackling this daunting world. This is nowhere more relevant than in health and medicine. In the doctor’s office, perhaps treating symptoms isn’t enough but genuine care or a comforting touch might be the missing ingredient to ease a patient’s suffering. In GlobeMed and other global health organizations, we know that to have someone support and believe in you during a time of despair can make all the difference.  Thus I believe that we need to practice these interactions, and we need to engage with all our senses to understand the other and maximize the power of human interactions.

Caroline Nguyen, GlobeMed National Program Director
I believe that everyone is an expert in something and no one is an expert in everything. I could take years of physics classes and explain to you exactly how friction affects the speed at which physical objects can travel, but I could never explain to someone the history of Chicago politics or why poinsettias are the color red or how best their little sister likes her peanut butter sandwich made. There are some things I know and some things I don't know. Everyone knows something, but nobody knows everything. That's why talking to others and listening to others -- the foundations of collaboration -- can open so many doors into new topics, ideas, perspectives, and experiences.

Rosalind Dillon, GlobeMed National Program Director
I believe that any factor, genetic predispositions aside, that decreases somebody's possibility of reaching their full potential as a human being is unjust. I know that these injustices exist in abundance, but I also know the things necessary to combat injustice - love, knowledge, perseverance and hope - exist in abundance as well.