global

The Most Recent Epidemics Around The World – #9

Human beings are social creatures. Along with our tendency to form groups and communities comes the inherent risk of disease transmission. The closer we live and the more derelict we tend to be in our duties towards maintaining sanitary living conditions, the more openly we can invite some of the worst pathogens we never want to see.   Thus, let’s take a stroll down the past 15 years and recall some of the most crucial diseases that delivered a substantial blow to human society, reminding us of the cunningness of virology and taking us back to our humble beginnings.   Over the next several weeks, I will be dedicating one article each to the top 10 most recent disease outbreaks around the world, with our next one at #9.   9. Cholera Cholera is a bacterial infection caused by the consumption of water infested with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The primary symptom of the condition is severe diarrhea, which can cause substantial dehydration and loss of crucial electrolytes from the body. As a result of this electrolyte imbalance, muscle cramps can also be perpetuated. The disease has a relatively quick onset upon exposure, showing symptoms between a few hours to 5 days. Without treatment, the hypovolemic shock can be lethal, leading to possible death.   Zimbabwe had one of the biggest cases of cholera in 2008-2009, where 98,592 cases...

The Most Recent Epidemics Around The World – #10

Human beings are social creatures. Along with our tendency to form groups and communities comes the inherent risk of disease transmission. The closer we live and the more derelict we tend to be in our duties towards maintaining sanitary living conditions, the more openly we can invite some of the worst pathogens we never want to see.   Thus, let’s take a stroll down the past 15 years and recall some of the most crucial diseases that delivered a substantial blow to human society, reminding us of the cunningness of virology and taking us back to our humble beginnings.   Over the next several weeks, I will be dedicating one article each to the top 10 most recent disease outbreaks around the world, starting with our first one at #10.   10. SARS SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) is caused by the transmission of coronavirus, which spreads through the respiratory secretions of infected persons. The condition is marked by classic symptoms of fever, headache, dry cough, myalgias (muscle pains), pneumonia, and even death in some cases. Sample X-ray of a patient with SARS, showing significant congestion in the lungs that could perpetuate difficulties in ventilation and oxygenation.   Active between 2002 to 2003, SARS was first encountered in China purportedly through the handling of cat-like mammals called civets that carried the infection and spread it to humans through air...

It’s About Time We, Students Who Care About Global Poverty, Really Understood It.

You went into medicine to help people, right? As tempting as it is to spend all of your time learning every detail in your textbook, maybe it’s time to really learn and understand global poverty.   Featured image is screenshot from video above  ...

7 Reasons Why Your Two Week Trip To Haiti Doesn’t Matter: Calling Bull on “Service Trips” and Voluntourism

    I’d like to add that this is not a new idea. The problems associated with voluntourism are well known among the professionals who work in international development. I have added many links at the end of this post to inspire further reading on the subject.   There have been many different articles written about the ineffectiveness of short-term voluntourism trips to developing nations, including here and here by our friends at in-Training. You know the kind of trips I’m talking about: a spring break spent painting an orphanage in Haiti as opposed to drinking all day in Panama City Beach; a 10-day excursion in exotic Peru, with the pics of Machu Picchu to prove it; or, for the overachieving do-gooders, a couple weeks spent parading around Nairobi, Kenya.    However, these types of trips often exploit the people and communities they pretend to help. Worse, these short-term service self-fulfillment trips can end up doing more harm than good.    I’m guilty of this myself. I spent a couple of weeks in a remote Ukrainian village in 2006, where I basically just hung out with a few orphans and occupied space. The following summer, immediately after graduating high school, I spent a few months in Uganda where I did slightly more work until I realized the true uselessness of my unskilled presence there. But the only people less helpful than me were...

I’m an International Public Health Social Worker…Seriously!

Say what now? No it really is a thing! I promise! It’s called international public health social work. It’s really important to know about. Well why? That’s a loaded question. It’s focused on prevention. But in a unique way and brings a set of skills which require thinking on a clinical and population level at the same time and being able to understand that empowerment is not simply a tag line you put into a grant application. It’s about understanding the importance of balancing process with outcomes. It’s focused on the social environment as a significant contributing factor to health statuses. After all, it is not an accident that African Americans tend to be at a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, violence, and lower birth weight. Mostly, it’s about being able to approach a problem from two different and valuable perspectives. Being an international public health social worker, or at least being in this field, requires me to have an elevator speech ready to go in order for someone to understand what I am doing and bringing to the table. A doctor is more or less universally understood, no matter if it is in a tent in a refugee camp in Kakuma, a health clinic in Lima, or the emergency room on Friday night at Boston Medical Center. We understand doctors and what they do – they diagnose and...

What’s the Difference Between Relief and Development Programs?

The simplest breakdown goes like this: Humanitarian relief programs are focused on rapid start-up, and rapid impact. Implementers of humanitarian programs need to gear up as fast as possible, and start providing necessary assistance as fast as possible. Their primary focus is not building local capacity, sustainability, or monitoring and evaluation. Their primary focus is getting help to people in need. They end when the emergency ends. Relief can come from the outside, and it is a response to some kind of breakdown or disaster. Development programs are focused on achieving long-term change of some kind, with the intent of improving people’s lives and the lives of their descendants. They involve rigorous planning and ongoing operational research. They are rooted in local capacity building, because they are aimed at change which continues after the project ends. Even if it has outside support, development in the end has to come from inside. In practice, however, it’s not that simple. (It never is, is it?) Sometimes the emergency doesn’t end. Situations that look like short-term humanitarian emergencies can go on for years, or even decades. Somalia, for example, Afghanistan, or Sudan. Programs designed to provide immediate assistance become a way of life for people in crisis. It would be nice if those programs could be converted into development programs, but it’s very hard to turn a relief program into a development...

30 Game-Changing Global Innovations

A recent report by PATH, a leader in global health, lists 30 remarkable innovations that are sure to transform global health by 2030. The report lists innovations for maternal, newborn and child health, innovations for combatting infectious diseases, innovations for reproductive health, and innovations addressing noncommunicable diseases. PATH describes the findings as “the result of a yearlong effort to identify, evaluate, and showcase game-changing health technologies and ideas. We sought innovations from across sectors, disciplines, and borders, crowdsourcing hundreds of ideas from developers, entrepreneurs, and experts. Dozens of independent health experts then evaluated and ranked them, selecting the 30 innovations featured here.” PATH produces this report so the global health community can better understand where their energy and efforts will yield the greatest impact. Included is a malaria-blocking drug that makes it impossible for people to transmit malaria to mosquitoes, therefore making it impossible for mosquitoes to carry it on to anyone else. The report also includes an automated chlorinator that can make up to 8,000 tons of water drinkable before needing to refill it. One of the best parts is that it doesn’t even use electricity and is nearly indestructible. Sayana Press, a contraceptive that provides protection for 3 months with just one shot, made the list as well. Contraceptives can be expensive, but this drugs costs just $1. The injection is also easy to administer, so women can...