michelle-l-staton

Michelle L Staton

Moving from DC to NYC, Michelle's background is in policy at the U.S. Senate and in African affairs — from working on West African democracy strengthening programs to East African peace initiatives beginning in 2006. Now an iOS developer, her focus is on ways to utilize tech for global good. You can find her at any given Chipotle in NYC, or you can follow her on Twitter @MichelleLStaton

New App Provides Kenyan Doctors Decision Support at Point-of-Care

    The ways to integrate mobile app technology in international development and global health are are exciting and endless. The widespread adoption of smartphones — even in remote locations — makes obtaining on-demand information a new reality.   I was recently contacted by Bruce Dahlman, MD, MSHPE, FAAFP, who is a family medicine educator at Kabarak University in Nakuru, Kenya. Dr. Dahlman introduced the Digital African Health Library, which he says  is “an integrated point-of-care resource that provides evidence-based, locally relevant decision support and health information which is shown to lead to more informed patient care.”   Dr. Dahlman, who is the Director of Digital African Health Library, allowed me to preview the app, which I found to be an innovative and invaluable resource. One of the best features is its ability to perform powerful cross-platform searches. For example, if I search for “malaria treatment”, it returns informative articles and treatment information from several sources, ranging from the African Health Journal to the Oxford Handbook of Tropical Medicine.                          I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Dahlman about this exciting new app.   Michelle: Who came up with the idea for the app, and what inspired that idea (what gap existed that warranted its development)? Dr. Dahlman: I followed the genesis of the health information “app” industry from its taking off in the mid-90s.  When setting up learner-centered family medicine post-graduate training programs in East...

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...

How To Effectively Contact Your Representatives: Tips From a Former Senate Staffer

Photo author’s own   On the subway this morning, I read an article about the impending doctor shortage. The author implored readers to contact their congressional representatives about this issue. They even included a handy pre-written email people could sign their name to and submit to their congressional representatives. To borrow a phrase from President Obama, “Let me be clear,” this will have little to no impact.    I’ve been on both sides of the table here: In 2008-2009, I lobbied for African peace initiatives and a foreign relations bill that eventually became law. Then from 2011-2014, I worked for the Senate on-and-off, beginning as an intern in undergrad and eventually becoming a legislative staffer post grad.   While contacting your representatives is a great thing to do, many people go about it wrong and their voice gets lost in the crowd. Here’s how to avoid that.    1. Be nice and don’t treat whomever you’re speaking with like they’re an idiot. • The interns and Staff Assistants who answer the phones in congressional offices get yelled at and sometimes cussed out by constituents all day long, so a little politeness goes a long way. • Your goal is to get the person on the other line to do something for you (pass along your message to the senator/congressperson), so speaking down to them demeaningly isn’t going to get you anywhere. Yelling...

3 Ways to Eat Healthy in Med School

As every med student knows, time is of the essence during med school and residency. via GIPHY Many things, such as cooking, cleaning, and seeing the light of day get pushed off to the side while in study mode or on rotations. via GIPHY My roommate, who is an ER resident, often resorts to eating fast food after work/immediately before passing out. via GIPHY   There’s always Seamless to bail you out, but neither one’s bank account nor their BMI benefits from this option.   As students and residents are often too busy taking care of other people’s bodies to properly care for their own, here are some alternative sources of nourishment:   1. Get organized and plan your meals in advance  • Supercook – Cooking at home is almost always healthier than take-out. This website that lets you enter the ingredients you have in your refrigerator, and tells you what you can make with them. • BigOven – This mobile app  has a meal planning function, grocery list, recipe saver, and a section that tells you what you can make with your leftovers.   2. Use grocery delivery services  These are great if you are too busy to go grocery shopping but still want fresh produce in your fridge on the reg. They can be a little pricier than going to the grocery store, but if you don’t have time to actually go to the store and resort...

New HIV Vaccine Candidate to Begin Human Trials

  It has been a long road in the battle against HIV/AIDS since the epidemic began in the early 1980s. However, in 2013, the virus hit what was widely referred to as a tipping point when, for the first time, more people were newly being treated with antiretroviral drugs than became newly infected with HIV. Despite this milestone, there are still 35 million people estimated to be living with HIV today — 19 million who are estimated to be unaware of their HIV-positive status — and 2 million more people are being infected each year.   Recently, the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine announced that for the first time, it will begin testing its HIV vaccine candidate in humans.   The vaccine has previously been tested on primates, and it is the cumulation of nearly twenty years of research. While not the only HIV vaccine candidate to begin human trials, the research team for this vaccine is being led by Dr. Robert Gallo, who was one of the first doctors to search for the virus causing AIDS, and is well known for his and the Pasteur Institute’s co-discovery that HIV is the cause of AIDS.* Dr. Gallo says the institute has been home to the research and development of the vaccine as it went from “a concept on paper, to the test tube, to tissue culture, to small...