Utah Valley Global Health Group

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

Archive for the ‘Global Health and Mormonism’ Category

Of Mormons and Measles

Posted by ryanlindsay on December 6, 2008

According to a recent WHO press release, the Measles Initiative is working with a 74% reduction in measles cases since 2000. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has donated at least 3 million dollars to the initiative. Members of the church have also given of their time at vaccine events in Angola, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Presiding Bishop David H. Burton has said that “over 54,000 Church members volunteered to help organize the effort.”

Beyond monetary contributions, I would like to see more initiatives like this Measles vaccination program that tap into local congregations to mobilize communities. Could this serve as a model for future initiatives?

Posted in Global Health and Mormonism, humanitarian aid, Measles | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Reconciling Moral Issues with Effective Policy by Aaron Anderson

Posted by benjamincrookston on April 8, 2008

I feel that one of the greatest complications facing public health officials today is reconciling “moral issues” with effective policy. I came to this conclusion while studying the efforts of the Thai government in its fight against HIV/AIDS.

Because of Thailand’s “vibrant” sex industry, HIV/AIDS spread rampantly in the country. Between 1989 and 1991, HIV infections rose from 3.5% to almost 22%. Infections in army conscripts rose six fold. Thailand appeared headed for a health disaster. However, thanks to the heroic, if not controversial, efforts of Thailand’s National AIDS Committee and its “100% Condom Program,” HIV was brought back under control.

Many health leaders in Thailand recognized that it would be impossible to stop people from visiting sex workers, so they sought a more pragmatic approach—they would make sex safe.

The so called “condom czar” of Thailand, Mechai Viravaidya spearheaded the effort. I watched a video of his efforts in which he explained that in order for the program to work, sex had to become less taboo. He explained that comedy had to become part of the campaign. Mr. Viravaidva impressed me with his efforts, however controversial they might have been. I was struck by images of him blowing up condoms like balloons in front of school children, handing out condoms wholesale in bars, and, most strikingly, him giving speeches in between strip shows about safe sex.

Viravaidva was primarily responsible for stopping the AIDS crisis in Thailand, however, I do not believe that such tactics would ever fly in the United States—and many other countries for that matter. Viravaidva created an innovative and successful program for his native Thailand, but replicating his tactics elsewhere probably won’t work. I think Thailand provides an excellent case study not necessarily for HIV prevention, but for demonstrating the importance of local leaders developing their own solutions for their own constituencies.

Posted in Global Health and Mormonism, Guest Bloggers, HIV/AIDS | 5 Comments »

BYU’s Mother, Newborn, and Child Health Conference

Posted by chads on February 20, 2008

Looks like a great conference! I hope to see many participants. Details can be found at the above link; here is a summary:

April 4, 2008
BYU Conference Center

The purpose of the Mother, Newborn, and Child Health Conference at BYU is to provide students, faculty, professionals, and volunteers with an outstanding opportunity to understand successful evidence-based interventions for improving global health. This year the conference will specifically focus on family-based solutions to health challenges, and feature key officials from the Pan American Health Organization.

Conference Theme: Addressing Global Mother, Newborn, and Child Health Issues through a Family Perspective: Looking at Evidence-Based Solutions

Tenative Schedule

Morning Session
8:30 – 8:35 a.m. Welcome
8:36 – 8:44 a.m. Symposium Introduction
8:45 – 9:30 a.m. Keynote Speaker: Gina Tambini, M.D.: How Can Family-Focused, Evidence-Based Solutions to Mother, Newborn, and Child Health Issues Be Translated in International Settings? Challenges and Opportunities
Area Manager, Family and Community Health
Pan American Health Organization
World Health Organization
9:30 – 10:15 a.m. Christopher Drasbek, MPH: Why a Family Perspective to Global Health Issues? Research, Program, Policy, and Practical Implications
Regional IMCI Advisor
Child and Adolescent Health
Family and Community Health
Pan American Health Organization
World Health Organization
10:15 – 10:30 a.m. Break
10:30 – 11:15 a.m. Padmini Murthy, M.D., MPH, MS: Women’s Rights and Health Issues: Barriers, Solutions, Progress
Assistant Professor, Department of Behavioral Science and Community Health
International/Global Health Program Director
New York Medical College–School of Public Health
11:15 a.m. – noon Panel Discussion
* Presenters are subject to change.
Afternoon Session
Best Practices and Methods: Lessons from the Field and Mother, Newborn, and Child Health Studies
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. What women know, believe, and practice: impact of culture and lifestyle on health outcomes Untapped partnerships in international mother, newborn, and child health promotion: family, public, and private sectors Topic: Family health and the family health history as a prevention tool
2:15 – 3:15 p.m. Millennial development goals and improving mother, newborn, and child health by 2015: research findings and lessons from the field Mother, newborn, and child health and the ongoing challenge of AIDS and infectious diseases Addressing mother, newborn, and child health gaps in research, policy, and implementation for adolescent health
3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Thirty years after the Alma-Ata Declaration: what is the impact of primary health care on women, newborns, and children? Improving health outcomes in resource-challenged settings: teaching newborn resuscitation Family health history implications for global communities: research findings and lessons from the field
4:30 p.m. Adjourn

Posted in Announcements, Global Health and Mormonism | 3 Comments »

Utah Global Health Alliance?

Posted by chads on January 15, 2008

I’ve been thinking periodically about a Utah (or LDS? or something else?) Global Health Alliance for a few years now, so I thought I’d write about it. I envision an umbrella organization that provides a place for:

-NGOs to receive technical assistance.

-Students and others to come to learn about work, volunteer, and research opportunities.

-Academics to collaborate.

-Donors to find a recipient that share their vision.

Posted in Global Health and Mormonism, Utah Valley Global Health Group | 5 Comments »

April 7 Meeting: Micro-Credit and Health

Posted by chads on May 7, 2007

I haven’t posted in over a month for personal reasons: new baby, oral emergency medicine exam, etc. I should be posting more frequently now, but we’ll just have to see…

By just about any measure, the Utah Valley Global Health Group’s first informal dinner was a success. We met on April 7 at Ned and Claralyn Hill’s home. Over 30 people came: students, NGO representatives, LDS missionaries, interested citizens, etc. There was also a wonderful variety of food.

I began the discussion with a 10-minute review of the micro-credit/health literature. In summary, while more research is desperately needed, there is some evidence that suggests that combining health interventions with existing micro-credit is effective. I hope to post a Q&A answering the question “How effective are micro-credit programs that are combined with health interventions?” soon.

Kirk Dearden then gave a summary of his involvement with Food for the Hungry. Kirk is one of the primary investigators with the Microfinance and Health Protection (MAHP) initiative.

Todd Manwaring finished the discussion from a micro-credit perspective. He introduced various types of micro-finance that involve health, including micro-insurance, and micro franchising. He also recommended the micro-finance gateway. While not peer-reviewed, it does provide thousands of documents that one can download.

We are planning our next informal dinner in the fall, and hope you’ll join us! I will post details here when we make definite plans.

Posted in Announcements, Evidence-based Global Health, Global Health and Mormonism, Utah Valley Global Health Group | Leave a Comment »

Packards’ Experience with the Measles Initiative

Posted by chads on January 2, 2007

NOTE: This is the final of a series of posts on measles. I have already posted a brief summary of the global measles problem, an introduction to the LDS church and the Measles Initiative, and an evidence-based answer to the question “How effective are mass measles vaccination campaigns?”

There are a handful of people that I have either heard about or met that leave such an impression on me that I am left with no other choice than to evaluate my life and make changes. The Packards fit into that category. They were kind enough to answer I few questions I had about their involvement in the Measles Initiative.

Last summer, Blair and Cindy Packard served a 3-month mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Mozambique working with the Measles Initiative. Prior to that service, they travelled to to southern Africa multiple times to found and organize Care for Life. Blair’s professional background is as a physical therapist, and Cindy worked as a midwife. They currently serve as in a volunteer 3-year capacity as mission presidents in Mozambique. You can learn more about the Packards here, here, and here. Thanks for joining us, President and Sister Packard!

1. Describe your daily activities with the Measles Initiative. Who were your partners?

Let me answer the last part of this question first, which will lead to what we actually did for our 3 months in Mozambique. The partners in the global measles and polio campaign are several, depending the nation in which the work is taking place. Worldwide partners include the American and International Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations, the Center for Disease Control, UNICEF and the World Health Organization. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints got involved about 3 years ago in the African phase of the work with an initial contribution of $3 million and the commitment to mobilize its members in each nation to assist primarily in social mobilization. This support from the Church has been renewed and is ongoing.

In each country a major partner is the local ministries of health or other ministries related to the health and social needs of their people. It was with this national ministry in Mozambique that we worked most closely. In fact, we were members of the national micro-planning committee which met weekly to plan and review every detail of the campaign. In these meetings we shared what the Church could do to assist in the campaign. This included donating prepared television and radio spots and purchasing airtime for these spots, developing posters and flyers for the campaign, developing ID badges for our volunteers and other workers, and contributing volunteer time by our Church members in a variety of ways.

Our work involved “social mobilization” which included getting the message out about the campaign and getting the populace to the immunization stations. Specific activities included the following:

• Contacted Olympic Gold Medalist Maria Matola from Mozambique and obtained her willingness to participate in promoting the campaign. While she was in the US for training we worked with her and the Church Media department to film and record TV and radio spots in Portuguese and English. These spots were later modified on site to meet local needs. We negotiated with local TV and radio stations to air the spots.
• Church Media provided two other radio spots that had been used in other campaigns successfully. These were translated to Portuguese and reproduced for use in Mozambique.
• In cooperation with the Ministry of Health we designed and produced 11,000 large campaign posters for use throughout Mozambique. These poster featured Maria Matola and our 6 year old daughter, Lindy, running together to “win the race against Measles and Polio.” The posters contained dates and other information about the campaign. The posters were distributed by the Ministry of Health and were a very visible part of the campaign.
• We organized a training program for all our Church members that was provided to each congregation. The program had two purposes – to educate our own members about these two diseases and their prevention and two encourage their participation as volunteers in encouraging their neighbors and others to have their children immunized.
• We organized over a thousand volunteer members to participate in various ways in the campaign. This included door knocking with campaign literature, distribution of fliers and posters, develop of small skits or theatre to dispel some of the myths of immunization, and organization of members who volunteered or were hired as workers at the immunization posts throughout Mozambique.

2. Describe your successes and why you think those efforts were successful. Are you aware of any data?

The overall success rate of the campaign in Mozambique was nearly 94% of the target population. The target population were children under 15 and these 9 million plus children represented 45% of the total population of Mozambique. Success goes directly to Dr. Mark Grabowsky’s approach. Dr. Grabowsky is from the Center for Disease Control (and was on loan to the American Red Cross during the campaign). It was he who first conceived of the initiative and a strategy that was based on “partial ownership of complete success instead of compete ownership of partial success.” It was an experienced group of global partners all working together with local ministries of health toward a goal of “complete success.” The logistical challenges in each nation are significant, but each group working together, contributed to the campaign success.

Another success that goes to the heart of the Church’s involvement relates to the approach taken. Initially a request came to the Church from the American Red Cross just for a financial contribution. That invitation was accepted. But it was Church president Gordon B. Hinckley’s foresight to involve members and contribute in ways more than just monetarily that made the biggest difference.

3. What were some of your major challenges?

Perhaps the biggest challenge from our perspective was just the coordination of such an effort. Bureaucracy always plays a part in such a large undertaking and did in many instances in the campaign in Mozambique. But, overall, there was a marvelous degree of cooperation and energy. It was particularly rewarding to observe at many of the immunization sites and ask some of the mothers who were bringing children why they were doing so. It was clear there was both an awareness of the diseases and a strong desire to see their children safe or provided with a better life than parents had. We saw one mother with Polio who used a hand crank scooter to pedal several kilometers and bring her small child to get immunized. We saw children carrying younger siblings on their backs and even young children coming by alone to get their immunizations. (See attached photos)

Initially we thought that getting the information out to more rural areas would be the biggest challenge. Contrary to that, the lowest success rates were in the largest metropolitan area in Maputo. Better organization by more rural units and public indifference in the cities were probably contributing factors to the challenge.

Unfortunately, I was not able to attach some of the accompanying photos. I will figure it out soon!

Posted in Global Health and Mormonism, Guest Bloggers, Measles | Leave a Comment »

Sacrifice and Service

Posted by chads on December 15, 2006

Interesting post about the cost of service at the Mormon blog By Common Consent.

Posted in Global Health and Mormonism, Practical Advice | Leave a Comment »

BYU’s MPH program

Posted by chads on December 1, 2006

Disclosure: I have no connection with BYU, or its MPH program (indeed, I’m an MPH student at a different school).

BYU has recently admitted its fifth class into its MPH (Masters of Public Health) program. The program’s emphasis is to

Promote community and family-centered health by training public health professionals to strategically plan, implement, and evaluate health promotion solutions that improve health and well-being. Emphasis is placed on reducing preventable diseases, injuries, and health disparities among under-served or at-risk populations in both domestic and international settings.

There are various professors and students involved in global health (this list is by no means comprehensive.):

Dr. Rob Clark (MPH Alumnus, 2006) was awarded the 2006 Student Award of International Health through the American Public Health Association. Dr. Clark was acknowledged for the outstanding quality of his paper, “Addressing asphyxia: A simplified skill-based approach to resuscitation training.” Reviewers recognized that “his assessment of the training was rigorous: and received the award in Boston, November 2006.

Kirk Dearden has extensive experience in global health projects, including nutrition, microcredit, and positive deviance.

Eugene Cole currently works with on a project with community advocacy and support for HIV-positive women in South Africa.

Steven Hawks has an interest in global malnutrition.

Len Novilla teaches international health and has experience in the Philippines.

Posted in Global Health and Mormonism | Leave a Comment »

World’s AIDS Day and the LDS Church

Posted by chads on December 1, 2006

Today is World’s AIDS Day, an opportunity for “people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV and AIDS.”

Last year, Elder Robert C. Oaks gave an interview about the Church’s response to HIV/AIDS. He said:

The AIDS pandemic is an everyday reality in Africa. We didn’t have to persuade anyone that this is a horrendous societal and personal health problem. The people we worked with were hungry for answers. When we started to pull these materials together, people working on this issue had begun to see from their own statistics that the “safe sex” approach of explicit education and free condom distribution wasn’t working. They were looking for a better answer, and the best answer is found in gospel principles of morality, strong families and understanding who we are as Heavenly Father’s children.

I will soon post (Q&A) the best data answering the following questions:

-How effective is condom distribution in reducing HIV prevalence in Africa?
-How effective are abstinence campaigns in reducing HIV prevalence in Africa?

(Please note that my purpose is not to analize the Chruch’s programs. Indeed, the most effective public health intervention may not be the “best answer,” to borrow Elder Oak’s words, especially from an eternal, spiritual perspective. My purpose is to simply answer public health questions using the best evidence.)

Posted in Global Health and Mormonism, HIV/AIDS | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Why aren’t more Mormons involved in Global Health?

Posted by chads on November 27, 2006

It seems to me that Mormonism has all the right ingredients for a robust, well-organized, effective global health response. After all, we send thousands of missionaries all over the world to live amoung those that suffer from easily preventable and treatable ill-health. Our scriptures teach of helping those that suffer, and our leaders have taught it and continue to preach it.

I have met relatively few members of the LDS faith, however, who are dedicated to solving global health disparities in a sustained, systematic fashion. Why? Here are a few possibilities:

1. There ARE many Mormons involved in global health. I just have not met them yet. This very well may be the case; hopefully through this blog I can meet you!

2. The large families, chruch responsibilities, and other activities make a long-term committment to global health very difficult. Probably the case. Global health can be a very time and resource intensive undertaking.

3. The emphasis among Mormons is more on performing humanitarian service than it is on results. (More on this on a future blog!)

It seems to me that the truth is some combination of the three.

(Please note that I am not asking why the LDS Church is not more involved in global health. I recognize that the mission of the Church is not specifically to decrease health disparities, though it has done much to do so. For more on the mission of the LDS Church, see here. I am asking why more members themselves are not doing more independent of the Church. Please also note that I am not at all interested in criticizing or judging specific people, or groups of people. I’m sincerely wondering why there aren’t more LDS people involved in global health; it seems like there would be.)

Posted in Global Health and Mormonism | Leave a Comment »