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
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.