Utah Valley Global Health Group

A blog about global health for those living in Utah Valley and their friends.

Archive for February, 2007

BYU Hunger Banquet and Inquiry Conference

Posted by chads on February 28, 2007

I have updated the Announcements and Events page with information about the upcoming Hunger Banquet, sponsored by BYU’s international development club, and the International Field Studies Inquiry Conference.

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How bad do we want it?: Tom Davis, HUNGER, and Socrates

Posted by chads on February 14, 2007

There are few human appetites stronger than that for food. History has shown that people will do just about anything for food. Tom Davis, the current Chair of the Board of Directors for CORE, recently wrote a brief piece on the need to have more “hunger” for child survival which can be found below.

That piece got me thinking about motivations and priorities. The reason millions of people die of diseases that are easily preventable and treatable is, in my mind, straight forward: we as a global community think that other things are more important. Some priorities that prevent effective global health interventions from saving lives seem obvious: we prefer materialism to health, we think other causes are more important, we feel that our time is best spent elsewhere. Other priorities that get in the way of effective global health interventions might not seem so obvious: political or personal philosophies are disguised as public health programs, humanitarian work focuses more on the givers and their experiences than on results, or academic work and research neglects global health. It seems that we want our political philosophy, big house, free time, feeling of importance, etc. more than we want global health.

In any case, Tom’s piece also reminded me of a story by Socrates about a human appetite possibly stronger than hunger for food: hunger for air. (I can’t remember where it came from, and I haven’t been able to find it, so maybe the story is just made up.  I think it has a good point, anyway. If you do know of the source, let me know!):

A man came to Socrates and asked him for truth. Socrates quickly dismissed him, telling him to come back when he really wanted the truth. This experience repeated itself several times, with the man coming back and asking for truth, until Socrates took the man down to a body of water and stuck his head under the water. The man began struggling, and choking, and gasping for air. At the point that he was about to fall unconscious, Socrates pulled him out of the water and left him, saying, “when you want truth as much as you wanted air, come back.”

People will stop suffering and dying of diseases like malaria, diarrhea, AIDS, pneumonia, and starvation when every one – politicians, academics, donors, clinicians, public health officials, lawyers, economists, humanitarians, and regular citizens – views the current global health situation as unacceptable. We must want it to change more than we currently do. Once we want it to change, we will find a way.

Here’s Tom’s piece:

This statement from the article (below) on the excellent drop in
under-five deaths from measles struck me: “The study authors
believe it may be possible to eradicate the disease altogether, but
they said there appeared to be ‘little appetite’ for the effort required
to achieve this.”

Too little appetite is usually not the problem of the North, but in this
case, the author is right on target. Our appetite is for energy, food,
and things that do not fill us with joy rather than experiencing a
hunger and thirst for righteousness – for bringing about in the world
the sort of things that we know should be happening, like the
eradication of polio and measles and finding the six billion dollars a
year needed to cut child deaths by over half in the world. We are
not hungry enough for it, and we have not told our story in such a
way as to make decision makers hungry for it.

Make it your New Years resolution this year to become hungry for
these things and to make others hungry for them. We need to
become infected with this hunger and infect everyone we know. It’s
painful to me, but I now know and fully accept that the problem of
child deaths can be virtually eliminated in our lifetime. And given
the slow progress, it’s unacceptable that more is not being done.
We are by no means lazy in this community, but I do feel we need
a new approach. We come up with more and more elegant and
powerful interventions. But the idea that child deaths can be
virtually eliminated at low cost is not sweeping our countries, and
we are the ones that need to tell that story loud and clear, over and
over.

How bad do we want it?

Posted in Guest Bloggers, Practical Advice | Leave a Comment »

Gorgas Clinical Tropical Medicine Cases

Posted by chads on February 9, 2007

I graduated from the 9-week Gorgas Course in Clinical Tropical Medicine in 2002. I highly recommend the course to clinicians.

For the seventh consecutive year, The Gorgas Courses in Clinical Tropical Medicine will be sharing on-line interesting cases seen by the participants. The first of twelve cases can be found here. These cases are fairly technical, and assume a background in clinical medicine. Regardless of your background, these cases give a face and story to the millions that suffer from preventable and treatable diseases, diseases that those of us living in the developed world need not even worry about.

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Recent Successes

Posted by chads on February 8, 2007

There are a number of recent global health successes that show that, yes, in fact, well-planned, coordinated global health interventions do save lives:

-According to a recent Lancet article, between 1999 and 2005, mortality owing to measles was reduced by 60%, from an estimated 873,000 deaths (uncertainty bounds 634,000-1,140,000) in 1999 to 345,000 deaths (247,000-458,000) in 2005. An article in the magazine Economist gives a good summary. See Malaria under the categories on the side bar for other posts about measles, immunization campaigns, and the LDS Church’s involvement in that campaign.

-According to Dr. Constance Bart-Plange, Programme Manager of the National Malaria Control Programme in Ghana, malaria deaths in children in the country has reduced by half between 2003 and the end of 2006. (To my knowledge, this data has not been published or subject to peer review. These preliminary results, however, are promising.)

As soon as I find some time, I will post a review on a highly recommended book that highlights a number of other global health success stories: Millions Saved.

Posted in Malaria, Measles, News | 3 Comments »

Update from BYU Clubs

Posted by chads on February 4, 2007

This post is a periodic update on the activities of BYU clubs related to global health by Ross Hendrickson

With a new semester on BYU campus all the clubs are going crazy. I had the opportunity to sit in on a progressive student alliance meeting where leaders from various groups on campus got together to talk about what their schedules were like. The students represented clubs like the vegetarian club, the College Democrats club, Amnesty International, Students for Africa, Students for International Development and others. One main thing that was decided was to try to put together a group calendar so that all the clubs members could know what the other clubs were doing.

The students for international Development met last week and divided themselves up into committees to help plan for the Hunger Banquet at BYU on March 9th and 10th. The banquet is an awareness activitie that teaches the student body in a cool way about how many people don’t have enough to eat very much in the entire world. They divide the students who are coming into third, second, and first world countries and then according to which level they are assigned their seating is determined as well as their food. First world countries eat an actual banquet at tables that are tastefully decorated (I am on the decorating committee so I can’t help myself) while second world students eat on chairs and third world students eat on blankets spread throughout the room. To get involved come to meetings Wednesday night in 238 HRCB or contact me!

Over the last year I have really enjoyed learning more and more about the people who are trying to make a difference in this world. As I have become involved with clubs on campus and non-profits off campus I have been able to find the joy that makes going to chemistry and molecular biology worth it. Helping others is the most addictive of experiences. I am excited for this next semester and I really feel that the potential of the many people here in Provo can be combined with people all over the world to make the world better, one person at a time.

News

Students for Africa was recently organized into an official BYU club (as of 1/30/07) under the Health Sciences Department. Check out our website at http://www.studentsforafrica.org. The club is involved with educating the student body about Africa and the major issues that are affecting the whole continent. Their meetings are Tuesday nights at 7 PM at the library, if you want to get involved or receive our weekly e-mails contact Tori (e-mail toriharris@byu.net our secretary) to be added to our mailing list.

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Welcome, Ross!

Posted by chads on February 3, 2007

I am pleased to introduce Ross Hendrickson, a premed student at BYU
who will be serving as a liaison between this site and the BYU
undergraduate clubs. Please see below for his bio. Ross will be
giving periodic (monthly?) updates from the Students for International
Development, Students for Africa, Premed, and Nursing clubs. If you
know of any other BYU clubs that are involved in global health, please
contact us at unacceptableglobalhealth@gmail.com. Thanks for joining
me, Ross!

I am currently attending Brigham Young University studying Physiology and Developmental Biology and hope to apply and be accepted to medical school in two years. I haven’t always been focused on medicine but I feel that it is the best avenue to fulfill my desire to help people. It has taken a great deal of time for me to begin to understand myself enough to know what my primary drive is. Growing up I was involved with sports, music, theatre, art, and debate. Through these experiences I have come to understand my greatest joy is when I help people.

I served an LDS mission on the Island of Taiwan and after coming home I had a lot of questions to answer, the greatest being what exactly I was going to do with myself for the rest of my life. I originally planned on applying for the Marriot School of Business and minoring in Chinese; however after carefully pondering on my past experiences I realized has taught me that my joy is not derived from the size of my paycheck but by what I do with my time. I love to help people. This has driven me to find opportunities to be involved with organizations that do help people.

I currently serve on the Board of Directors for a small Non-Profit Corporation based in Salt Lake City that raises funds for a South African AIDs Clinic. I also am involved with two student clubs on campus, Students for Africa and Students for International Development. I have great faith in the innate goodness of mankind and that when we combine all those desires to serve others and ease suffering we can change the world. In order to change the world we must first change ourselves, and then provide the knowledge and an opportunity for others to change themselves.

Posted in BYU Clubs, Guest Bloggers | 1 Comment »

Resources: CORE’s online learning

Posted by chads on February 1, 2007

The CORE group occasionally offers on-line learning sessions that people can either participate in live, or access later in their archives. They consist of audio and power point presentations by public health practitioners with recent field experience. I have found these discussions to be very worthwhile because they are up to date and evidence-based, despite the poor sound quality (at times), and the fact that some of the presentations drag on. (I’ll usually listen to them while doing the dishes or cleaning). Here are a few of the topics:

-Indoor Residual Spraying State of the Art Technical Update
-Technical Update on HIV/AIDS and Infant and Young Child Feeding: New Data from Studies
-Community-Based Integrated Management of Childhood Illness: An Introduction

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