Utah Valley Global Health Group

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

Archive for October, 2007

RESULTS Meeting Canceled

Posted by chads on October 25, 2007

Tonight’s RESULTS meeting has been canceled due to an illness.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

Posted in Announcements, RESULTS | Leave a Comment »

Book Review: The End of Poverty

Posted by chads on October 25, 2007

I finally got around to reading Jeffery Sachs’ The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for our Time.

The mere title had been tantalizing me since I first heard of the book in 2005. Could it really be that we could end poverty? Is that really possible? It takes a visionary like Sachs to convince people like me, lulled in my comforts of 2007, that yes, of course it is possible. Not only is it possible, it is necessary.

I don’t know enough about economic theory to comment on Sachs’ proposals. I am convinced, however, that despite the potential shortcomings of the specifics of his plan, he is starting the conversation at the right spot: poverty can and should end in our generation.

Sachs is not talking about the “relatively poor in high-income countries” that “lack access to cultural goods, entertainment, recreation, and to quality health care, education…” He talks of ending “extreme poverty … the poorest of the poor.” They are “chronically hungry, unable to access health care, lack the amenities of safe drinking water and sanitation, cannot afford education for all or some of their children, and perhaps lack rudimentary shelter.” They are “trapped by disease, physical isolation, climate stress, enviornmental degradation, and by extreme poverty itself,” not even “on the development ladder.” This is “the greatest tragedy of our time.”

The chapters on Poland, Russia, and China were a bit dull, and his narrative struck me as a bit arrogant at times. Over-all, however, I would agree with The Economist: “Book and man are brilliant, passionate, optimistic, and impatient … Outstanding.”

Highly Recommended.

Posted in Book Reviews | 2 Comments »

Happy Birthday, UNACCEPTABLE!

Posted by chads on October 25, 2007

Well, I’ve been at this for about a year now. Time to take a step back and evaluate. First, some trivia:

-The blog is averaging about 40 views a day, mostly people who search for random things like “rash”.

-There has been an upward trend in the number of views. September 2007 was the month with the most views at 1166.

-The most popular post has been Measles with 329 views, followed by “Should I Start an NGO?” with 283.

-Akismet has protected my site from 4,812 spam comments.

Anyway, here are the purposes for this blog that I outlined a year ago (notice that “get lots of people to look at it” is not one of them):

  1. VENT. Like most bloggers, I guess, I’ve got stuff in my head that I think everyone else should hear about.
  2. CREATE COMMUNITY. I believe strongly that change comes about when people discuss, compromise, and collaborate. I’d like to get to know others interested in global health. I hope that this blog serves as a way to keep in touch over time, regardless of where we might be. Perhaps we can even make a difference.
  3. EXPLORE IDEAS. I’d like this to be a venue to discuss recent studies, news, and ideas related to global health.

Overall, I’d say that the blog has not been a success. I have been able to vent, but it’s getting to the point that I’ve vented enough, so that doesn’t motivate me much anymore. I really think that my primary purpose in starting this blog is the second reason listed above: help create community. I don’t think that’s happened, and I’m not sure why. The third and fourth purposes listed above have been met, but not nearly to the degree that I had hoped.

So, my blogging will likely dwindle in the future. Which is OK.

Posted in Personal Notes | Leave a Comment »

2nd Informal Global Health Dinner: Leprosy

Posted by chads on October 25, 2007

The Utah Valley Global Health Group hosted their second informal pot-luck dinner on October 19. The theme was leprosy. A quick summary of the “take-home points” from my global-burden talk is below. Sylvia Finlayson then shared her experienced with Rising Star Outreach. About 15 people came, and delicious food ranging from spring rolls to garbanzo beans was served.


  • Leprosy is a chronic disease caused by bacterium, Mycobacterium leprae;
  • It multiplies very slowly; symptoms can take as long as 20 years to appear.
  • Leprosy is not highly infectious. It is transmitted via droplets, from the nose and mouth, during close and frequent contacts with untreated cases.


  • Leprosy causes rashes, numbness, and enlarged tender nerves.
  • It mostly causes morbidity (suffering, disability), not mortality (death).


  • Leprosy is a curable disease and treatment provided in the early stages averts disability;
  • With minimal training, leprosy can be easily diagnosed on clinical signs alone;
  • The WHO recommended multidrug therapy (MDT) in 1981. MDT consists of three drugs: dapsone, rifampicin and clofazimine. This drug combination kills the pathogen and cures the patient if taken for the course of 6mo-1 year.
  • Since 1995, WHO provides free MDT for all patients in the world.


  • In 1991 World Health Assembly passed a resolution to eliminate leprosy as a public health problem by the year 2000. The target was achieved on time.
  • A dramatic decrease in the global disease burden: from 5.2 million in 1985 to 805 000 in 1995 to 753 000 at the end of 1999 to 286 000 cases at the end of 2004.
  • Intensive efforts are still needed to reach the leprosy elimination target in five countries: Brazil, India, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Nepal.
  • Ensuring accessible and uninterrupted MDT services available to all patients through flexible and patient-friendly drug delivery systems will lead to elimination.

Modified from the WHO Leprosy Fact Sheet, available at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs101/en/

Posted in Leprosy, Utah Valley Global Health Group | Leave a Comment »

Utah Valley Global Health Group

Posted by chads on October 25, 2007

A few months ago some friends and I started the Utah Valley Global Health Group.  The idea is quite simple:  we were just looking for a place (physical and/or cyber) where people who think that the current global health situation cannot be can get together.  This past meeting, we introduced a four-prong mission:

1.  Encourage collaboration between individuals, institutions, universities, NGOs, and others involved in global health.

2.  Encourage the implementation of evidence-based global health interventions through education.

3. Increase the public’s knowledge of and interest in global health issues through political advocacy, newspaper editorials, activities, etc.

4.  Provide a venue for people recently interested in global health to network, learn of opportunities, get a mentor, etc.

If you have any additions or changes to this “mission statement,” chime in below.

Posted in Announcements, Evidence-based Global Health, Utah Valley Global Health Group | 1 Comment »

Welcome, Sylvia!

Posted by chads on October 16, 2007

Sylvia Finlayson will being sharing her experiences with leprosy at our global health dinner this Friday. I got to know Sylvia in Mozambique. She holds a M.A. degree from the University of Utah in Political Science with an emphasis in rural development. Most recently she served as Executive Director with Care For Life, a development organization working in Mozambique, Africa. Former advisory board member to C.H.O.I.C.E. Humanitarian, expedition leader for Habitat for Humanity and Reach the Children, Sylvia has been involved in humanitarian work in several countries around the world. She also worked as a world history teacher for many years and as Associate Editor for an international online magazine. Sylvia is a private pilot and holds a ham radio license. She is currently working on her PhD in Educational Leadership.
1. Describe your current role with Rising Star Outreach.

As Director of Program Development I oversee the development of our major program initiatives in India. They are: 1- The K-12 school

2- Micro credit program

3- Mobile medical clinic

I’m currently spending the bulk of my efforts on the school. When I was there this past summer I hired teachers and did teacher training. We are currently looking for a principal. I’m in the process of researching and developing appropriate curriculum. We are working with a local school in Chennai in hopes of partnering to make our efforts more effective. Along with the academic side of things, another major initiative is to create a self-sustainable school through small businesses. We plan to open small businesses this summer on the 13 acres where our school is located. It will not only provide income for the school, but will be an opportunity to provide vocational and entrepreneurial training for our students.

2. I know that you have been involved in a number of organizations
(RSO, Care for Life, CHOICE Humanitarian, Reach the Children) in a
number of countries (India, Mozambique, Uganda). What have you
learned? What have you seen that really works?

In my opinion, the key to success on a long-term basis hinges on several factors, the most important of which are 1- understanding the local culture and environment in which you work and 2- working within that culture and with local leaders and 3- striving for a program that teaches self-reliance rather than provides hand-outs. The concept of self-reliance is spoken of by most development organizations; implementing a program that actually teaches it is something else entirely. There is a fine line between assisting people to become self-reliant and creating dependency. We are continually asking ourselves if what we want to do will help people on a long-term basis.

3. You are currently pursuing a PhD in educational leadership. What
do you see yourself doing in 10 years?

If I don’t expire during the PhD program (which is feeling likely at the moment), I hope to continue doing the same type of work I’ve done for the past several years. I’m constantly looking at what does and does not seem to work in terms of lifting the poor. There is no one way to help, but there are general concepts and principles that can and should be better understood by all organizations who wish to help the poor. It would be nice to get those ideas out there so that they can be replicated and that people, groups and organizations won’t have to reinvent the wheel, thereby wasting precious time and resources.

4. What advice do you have for students who want to make a difference
globally, but don’t know where to start?

Advice for those who want to make a difference? This may be contrary to popular belief, but I suggest follow your head first, heart second. Do lots of reading. Understand the problems. Look at past attempted solutions. Learn some basics of human nature and how people respond to things given without effort on their part. Billions and billions have been spent in wasted effort. Be smart. Start small. One person can make a difference!

Posted in Guest Bloggers | 1 Comment »

2nd Global Health Pot-Luck Dinner

Posted by chads on October 7, 2007

The Utah Valley Global Health Group

Invites you to the 2nd



Theme: “Leprosy”

When? October 19, 2007, 6pm

Where? Chad and Shannon Swanson’s home

Why? Too many suffer needlessly


“Leprosy: A Brief Overview of the Global Burden” by Chad Swanson, ER Physician and MPH student

“Experiences in Leprosy Colonies in India” by Sylvia Finlayson, the Director of Program Development for Rising Star Outreach


We hope you’ll join us!


The Utah Valley Global Health Group is committed to decreasing global health disparities by creating community, fostering collaboration, and announcing events and opportunities.

Posted in Announcements, Utah Valley Global Health Group | 4 Comments »