Global Health Blog

  1. What does it look like to be a socially conscious business person?

    April 16, 2014 by Janka Pieper

    This article was originally posted on the Northwestern Public Health Review (NPHR) Blog.

    by Annie Conderacci, Kellogg MBA student

    Do business interests have to conflict with those of the public good? In light of recent corporate scandal, greed, and corruption, I frequently ask myself this question. As a Social Enterprise major at Kellogg, I believe it is a firm no, but we future business leaders can do more to be better citizens.

    The desire to study socially responsible business lured me to Kellogg–while several MBA programs provide students with advanced management skills and functional knowledge, Kellogg’s Public-Private Initiative (KPPI) provides a socially-conscious MBA curriculum. Understanding the responsibility that comes with the power of leading major institutions, Northwestern’s faculty encourages its students to consider the social impact of the challenges and opportunities presented by an ever-changing, inter-connected world.

    NEF

    The intersection between business and policy fascinates me, particularly how both can work together to shape people’s lives. The Health and Human Rights course through KPPI was an opportunity for me to focus on public health, a crucible for public-private conflict and partnership. The course’s readings and lecture components focused on international health issues and the policies, programs, and business initiatives to combat them. In parallel, we worked in groups on research projects to address public health issues for the town of Douentza, Mali, taking our macro content knowledge of public health and implementing it at a micro level.

    The course’s project in Mali was an opportunity to pool the wealth of resources from Northwestern and its partner organization, the Near East Foundation (NEF), to implement health initiatives in limited-resource environment.  I was eager to test and implement my management and professional skills in a setting that could have such a profound social impact.  In a corporate setting, change management and quality of life issues were rarely matters of life and death. With this project, I jumped at the opportunity to implement changes with such gravity, but I also hoped to bring those experiences back with me, allowing them to influence my decision-making as a more socially responsible and compassionate manager.

    I was fortunate enough to travel with a group of students to Douentza, Mali, to conduct a project gap analysis with our NEF counterparts, seeing in person where our research fell short and where our public health interventions could have a lasting, powerful impact.

    Finally, this trip and this project would not be possible without the resources and dedication of Northwestern University, its dedicated faculty advisors, Juliet Sorensen and Karin Ulstrup, the Near East Foundation, and the members of our project’s Community Advisory Board in Douentza. Thank you.

    Share and Enjoy:
    • email
    • Print
    • Digg
    • StumbleUpon
    • del.icio.us
    • Facebook
    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
    • Google Bookmarks
  2. Bringing emergency care to Bolivia

    April 15, 2014 by Megan Carlson
    Swaroop and her team teach local police and firefighters safe ways to roll, evaluate and transport patients

    Swaroop and her team teach local police and firefighters safe ways to roll, evaluate and transport patients

    It is easy to take for granted in the United States the advanced system of trauma care, especially here in Chicago.

    If your were the victim of a serious car accident along Lake Shore Drive, for example, it is likely you would talk to a trained emergency medical dispatcher at 911, be quickly treated by professional paramedics, and rushed by ambulance to one of several Level 1 Trauma Centers (one that has trained staff ready 24 hours per day, specific medical equipment, specialists at hand, and other qualifications) within an hour. Once there, you would receive treatment in an emergency room, and, depending on your needs, have the option of surgery or a stay in the intensive care unit. A swath of nurses would attend to your needs, and, once stabilized, you would be privy to post-hospitalization and rehabilitative care. From beginning to end, you would be surrounded by a team of trained professionals and high-tech resources to guide you through your recovery.

    This system of care does not exist in many countries, including Bolivia, which is home to a staggering number of fatal road traffic accidents each year due to its mountainous terrain and poor road conditions. In the country home to the Camino de las Yungas, the “world’s most dangerous road,” the trauma care system is severely underdeveloped and understaffed, with hospitals ill-equipped to handle serious accidents and limited trauma training for professionals

    Accident victims in remote areas often have to wait hours for firemen to arrive from the city

    Accident victims in remote areas often have to wait hours for firemen to arrive from the city

    This is a problem trauma surgeon Dr. Mamta Swaroop of Northwestern Memorial Hospital wants to solve. Building from the ground up, Swaroop and her team have been working in conjunction with her students and the Bolivian Ministry of Health to develop a comprehensive trauma care system in the country. It’s no small task, but Swaroop focuses on the incremental steps that will lead to her eventual goal of developing such a pervasive system.

    “You have to be able to get a big picture and see the forest for the trees,” said Swaroop, who is also an assistant professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine. “But without the trees, there is no forest.”

    The first tree in Bolivia was the lack of prehospital care. Many injured patients cannot access an ambulance due to financial constraints or distance, even in areas where access is feasible. Instead, they often rely on taxi cabs, volunteer firefighters or simply Good Samaritans– most of whom do not have any medical training, including basic first aid– for transport to a hospital. By the time a patient arrives, it is often too late.

    With this in mind, Swaroop and her team have been delivering first responder training at the local clinic and hospital level in villages that see the highest number of traumas, with the goal of eventually spreading such standardized training to the entire country. Since the course began in March of 2013, Swaroop, her colleagues and local health care providers have educated more than 700 nurses, hospital workers, firefighters, and even average citizens on how to best treat patients before they arrive at a hospital.

    A view from the entrance of Hospital Arco Iris, including the hospital’s two ambulances parked outside the Emergency Department

    A view from the entrance of Hospital Arco Iris, including the hospital’s two ambulances parked outside the Emergency Department

    “If the current reality is that laypersons – taxi cab drivers, people in the village – first come to help out injured victims, it’s worthwhile to teach these laypersons the basics of trauma first aid,” says Dr. Christopher Richards, Associate EMS Medical Director at Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Department of Emergency Medicine. Richards was brought onto the project by Swaroop for his expertise in prehospital care.

    Determining these on-the-ground nuances, such as who responds to trauma and how trauma is perceived by citizens, is a vitally important prerequisite to any intervention, according to Richards. A 911 system, for example, doesn’t work if no one thinks to call it for medical care.  “It’s not something we take from here and impose there,” he said. “We can’t put the Chicago Fire Department’s trauma response structure into Bolivia and expect it to work like it does here.”

    Instead, the team is working with the local population and government to thoughtfully develop reliable trauma care that holistically integrates prehospital, emergency, hospital care, and post-hospital care for patients.

    “Ultimately, the end game is to make sure that trauma patients get the best care they can,” Richards said. “If that works, we’re saving lives and I think that’s a success.”

    Share and Enjoy:
    • email
    • Print
    • Digg
    • StumbleUpon
    • del.icio.us
    • Facebook
    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
    • Google Bookmarks
  3. Young food waste activists confront issues at summit

    April 10, 2014 by Connor Walters

    “Our generation was not so good at teeing up prosperity for the next generation. We assumed someone else would come in and take care of it later. Young brothers and sisters, that’s you.”

    Those were the words of Mike Curtin, CEO of DC Central Kitchen and a speaker at the Food Waste and Hunger Summit at Northwestern University on April 5-6.

    Curtin, whose organization uses recycled food, culinary training and other measures to combat hunger, told his audience that in order to achieve change they must work together.

    The Campus Kitchens Project and the Food Recovery Network co-hosted the summit, and students from university branches of those organizations descended upon Evanston for two days of speakers, panels, discussions and other exercises.

    A major focal point of discussion was on food recovery, a process whereby good leftover food is re-purposed or redistributed to people in need. Often this food includes products that are past their use-by dates or have faulty labels.

    Nicole Civita talks with a participant at the Food Waste and Hunger Summit on April 6.

    Nicole Civita talks with a participant at the Food Waste and Hunger Summit on April 6.

    Nicole Civita, a law professor in the agricultural and food law program at the University of Arkansas, presented on the complex topic of food recovery laws.

    “The law is there to facilitate the work you want to do,” she told students.

    Students said they encountered problems in convincing campus dining halls and local restaurants they could legally donate their food.

    The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, Civita said, created a “national floor” for food recovery policies. It exempts people engaged in food recovery from “negligently caused harm.”

    Civita said the sell-by, use-by and expiration dates on food packages are not determinative as to whether food can be donated.

    The goal of the presentation was to provide students with the correct legal information to use when approaching different facilities about starting to participate in food recovery.

    Civita said there was food being wasted in other avenues, such as when food is confiscated from international travelers passing through customs and encouraged students to take action to correct the problem.

    “Where is food being wasted and you can’t figure out how to recover it?” she asked.

    One breakout session students participated in over the weekend focused on campus advocacy for food recovery. During a discussion called “Party for a Purpose,” students shared ideas from their schools and discussed better ways to engage their campus communities.

    Plans included hunger banquets, hunger games, speakers, cooking classes, pledges and giveaways.

    Students watch as Claire Cummings simulates a conversation with a campus dining services official.

    Students watch as Claire Cummings simulates a conversation with a campus dining services official.

    An additional forum, “Navigating the Campus Bureaucracy,” was led by Ben Simon, founder of the Food Recovery Network. He had students map out all of the campus parties that might be involved in a food recovery program and discussed the Do’s and Don’t’s of working with school administrators.

    Part of what makes a campus food recovery system complex, Simon said, is that “different departments are silos,” and therefore communication sometimes is an obstacle for students to overcome.

    During the session, students also pitched their food recovery program to Claire Cummings, a waste specialist for Bon Appétit, a food service management company. Cummings played the role of a campus dining services director and pressed students for answers to questions they would be asked during an actual meeting.

    By joining students and activists from across the country to discuss best practices in combating hunger and food waste, students left the summit with a stronger network and new tools to boost their food recovery efforts back home.

    Share and Enjoy:
    • email
    • Print
    • Digg
    • StumbleUpon
    • del.icio.us
    • Facebook
    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
    • Google Bookmarks
  4. Diarrhea, leading cause of childhood malnutrition and dehydration

    by Kathleen Ferraro

    Source: Rotacouncil.org

    Up until this point, most of my coursework has focused on major global health issues like HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, malaria, and collaboration strategies (to name a few). Of course, there are innumerable other global issues that need to be addressed, and I want to have some background knowledge of issues that I have not yet encountered. One that I think is universally significant and that I have heard about, but do not actually know much about, is diarrhea.

    Diarrhea is not often heard about despite the fact that it is the second leading cause of death among children under the age of five. Besides that, diarrhea is a leading cause of childhood malnutrition and dehydration. All of these are unfortunate consequences given that diarrhea is both preventable and treatable.

    Diarrhea is the frequent passing of loose or liquid stools, usually due to an infection in the intestinal tract. This infection is typically contracted from contaminated water or food sources or poor hygiene, and is aggravated by previous infections, malnutrition, continued poor sanitation, and lack of safe drinking water. The condition is treated by ingesting clean water and electrolytes to replace those expelled by the body, balanced nutrition, zinc supplements, and in some cases can be treated with over-the-counter medicines. Prevention is ideal to avoid diarrheal infections completely, measures which include clean or treated drinking water, personal hygiene, breastfeeding infants, and vaccinations.

    Unfortunately, the people diarrhea affects the most tend to not have access to safe drinking water, electrolytes, or medicine–often children living in extremely impoverished circumstances. Children living in such conditions face higher risk of ingesting contaminated water or food in tandem with poorer sanitation and thus experience increased rates of diarrheal disease. Once contracted, diarrhea can exacerbate already existing malnutrition, cause malnutrition, or cause moderate to severe dehydration; all of which can, without proper treatment, result in death.

    Diarrheal infections are more prominent in some regions than in others: for instance, one quarter of deaths related to diarrhea occur in India. Hundreds of thousands of impoverished individuals face a lack of access to safe water, food, and medical care, leaving them without prevention or treatment to prevent diarrheal infections. Though there is currently a surge in vaccination interventions, there are still high incidence rates of diarrhea in India because widespread environmental sanitation has proved challenging to achieve.

    Another country exhibiting extremely high rates of diarrhea is Nigeria, which, like India, has unsanitary food and water sources and already high rates of malnutrition, all of which compound the contraction of diarrheal infections. However, Nigeria has taken a different approach to combatting high diarrheal rates, choosing to focus on hand-washing campaigns to encourage personal hygiene as a prevention strategy. UNICEF’s study of these hand-washing interventions have found that hand-washing can reduce diarrhea prevalence by about 30%.

    Dr. Evan J Anderson of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine has done extensive research on the prevention and treatment of viral diarrhea. His research investigates the viruses that cause diarrhea, identifying rotavirus and norovirus as the two leading viral causes. Dr. Anderson lists the prevention strategies outlined above, paying particular attention to vaccination. There are two new vaccines–Rotarix and RotaTeq–that have greatly reduced morbidity in the countries that use them. There are also efforts being made to develop another vaccine that combats norovirus.

    Besides these prevention and treatment strategies, what can be done to help decrease diarrheal infections? First and foremost, investment in safe drinking water and sanitation must be a priority for growing infrastructures in developing nations. Present and future health interventions in regions with high prevalence of diarrhea-related issues can focus on sanitation, constructing safe wells, introducing iodine water treatments, and educating people. Furthermore, health workers can be trained to identify, treat, and prevent diarrhea and related conditions. Regardless, it is important to recognize the global severity of diarrhea–gaining a basic understanding of the issue can at least provide a foundation for more in depth action.

    Share and Enjoy:
    • email
    • Print
    • Digg
    • StumbleUpon
    • del.icio.us
    • Facebook
    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
    • Google Bookmarks
  5. International Women’s Day Global Health Symposium a Success

    April 8, 2014 by Chance Cim

    Last month The Chicago Council on Global Affairs hosted its second International Women’s Day Global Health Symposium. The event brought international health leaders together at the Fairmont Chicago for a day of discussion on international public health issues pertaining to women.  Attendees included members of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs as well as a number of students from Chicago’s universities including Northwestern, University of Chicago, Loyola, and DePaul.

    uch_008873-1

    Dr. Funmi Olopade
    Image Courtesy: The University of Chicago

    The day began with the keynote speaker Dr. Olufunmilayo “Funmi” Olopade, who is the Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics, associate dean of Global Health, and director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics at the University of Chicago. Dr. Olopade’s work has focused on cancer risk assessment and found that on a global scale there is still little access to detection and treatment for cancer. Breast and cervical cancer are the primary cause of premature death in young women today. When she first began her practice here in Chicago Dr. Olopade noticed cancers similar to what she saw at medical school in Nigeria. The reality was that cancer was a death sentence for many at the time, for patients had to wait almost two years to get a mammogram at Cook County Hospital. If these issues existed then and still exist today, then why aren’t we galvanized to treat everyone with breast cancer? Dr. Olopade believes that it is a matter of access. She currently serves on the board of directors of Cancer IQ, which serves to use real-time clinical and genomics data to empower oncologists everywhere to deliver the highest level of care. Dr. Olopade believes that genetic analysis is the cheapest action we can take in the prevention of cancer, and should be applied to patients worldwide. Likewise, clinical trials should be applied to populations all over the world rather than just those that house large research universities such as the United States.

    toilethackersplunger-525c4f44966c3

    Learn more about Toilet Hackers here.

    The first panel I attended was titled “Sanitation and Hygiene for All!” One of the speakers was Rebecca Fishman, the director of operations and special projects at WASH Advocates, which is a nonprofit initiative that focuses to solve the challenges related to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene. WASH is currently working on a program in Indonesia to empower a behavior change that will increase toilet use within communities. Other projects include culturally appropriate books on menstruation and a “toilet park” in India. The other panelist was a social entrepreneur named Michael Lindenmayer, who confounded Toilet Hackers, an organization committed to the 2.5 billion people without access to a toilet. Lindenmayer sees proper sanitation as the “ultimate vaccination” and uses Toilet Hackers as a platform to promote grassroots awareness building and foster application and collaboration. The conversation made clear how proper sanitation is a sometimes under-emphasized global need, even though diarrhoeal disease is the second leading cause of death among children under five. Among the Millennium Development Goals, it was the furthest off its target.

     

    More information regarding mDiabetes can be found here.

    More information regarding mDiabetes can be found here.

     

    The next panel was titled “Collaborative Approaches to Non-Communicable Diseases.” It featured Nalini Saligram, the founder & CEO of Arogya World, a global non-profit organization working to prevent non-communicable diseases through health education and lifestyle change. Non-communicable diseases, or “NCDs,” became a familiar term after the WHO coined it in 2011. These diseases include heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease and diabetes. They are linked by risk factors such as a sedentary work environment, abundant food, and long term chronic stress, but are largely preventable. Dr. Saligram emphasized how NCDs are not a first-world issue, but account for 2/3 of deaths in the world and 80% of those in developing countries. Through a partnership with Nokia Life, Arogya World has been using mobile technology to improve public health in a program called mDiabetes. This initiative in India has sent diabetes prevention text messages to over 1 million people. These messages were consumer tested and sent to all parts of the country, in areas both urban and rural. Another program is using mobile phones to survey 10,000 women in 10 different countries in order to better understand the impact that NCDs have on women. The panel made it clear that we will continue to hear about NCDs long into the future. It is an interesting public health issue where the solutions are known, such as healthier foods and more physical activity, but how we go about encouraging them is the challenge.

    The day finished with a keynote conversation by some of the youngest leaders in global health initiatives today. Barbara Bush, the CEO and cofounder of Global Health Corps, was joined by Maya Cohen, the current executive director of GlobeMed. The discussion was moderated by Sheila Roche who is the chief creative and communications officer at (RED). In 2005 Roche joined Bono and Bobby Shriver to create Product (RED), the first business and consumer driven initiative to raise money and awareness for the fight against AIDS in Africa. Many may be familiar with (RED) through their products at Target.  To put it simply, I found the discussion to be an inspiration in the emerging discipline of global health. More than ever is it clear that young people are developing an interest in utilizing their own unique talents in order to benefit the world. Global Health Corps selects an incredibly wide range of skill sets for their fellowship program. Likewise, GlobeMed is bringing its network to college campuses all across the United States in order to mobilize student advocates. Roche echoed this sentiment repeatedly, but if Bush and Cohen are setting the example then there is great hope for the future of global health.

    More information regarding the event as well as full audio clips of the panels can be found on The Chicago Council on Global Affairs Website.

    Share and Enjoy:
    • email
    • Print
    • Digg
    • StumbleUpon
    • del.icio.us
    • Facebook
    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
    • Google Bookmarks
Page 1 of 3812345...102030...Last »