Post date: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - 10:52am

By Noelle Sullivan, PhD

If we want more people to vaccinate, we should try to understand the concerns anti-vaccine parents have.

Texas has become an emerging battleground for the national vaccine debate. The Parents' Right to Know legislation recently filed in the Texas House and Senate would require rates of vaccine exemption for each school to be made public. This bill will undoubtedly be controversial, as the anti-vaccine movement is gaining political footing among Texan elected officials. Events in Texas reflect a wider trend, as the latest Pew poll suggests 17 percent of American are against mandatory vaccination. There’s even an anti-vaccine activist march on Washington planned for March 31. No wonder a recent op-ed depicted the anti-vaxxer movement as “winning." It certainly appears to be spreading.

From Alternet

Post date: Friday, February 10, 2017 - 10:52am

By Noelle Sullivan, PhD

Like Republican presidents before him, one of Donald Trump’s first acts after he took office was to reinstate (and expand) the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule. The rule prohibits American foreign aid money from funding organizations that offer or promote abortions, even though U.S. taxpayer funds are never used to pay for those services, whether the rule is in effect or not.

The global gag rule has historically been a political ping pong ball volleyed back and forth across party lines: Republican presidents sign it into law, Democratic presidents repeal it.(b) In the week since the rule was reinstated, it’s already begun hitting clinics hard.

From Footnote

Post date: Thursday, January 19, 2017 - 12:43pm

By Noelle Sullivan, PhD

Leading up to the Inauguration of President-elect Trump, experts have made the case for why global health should be a top priority for the new administration. Global health has a long history of bipartisan support and is, frankly, good business.  

However, Ebola in West Africa and Zika in the Americas should teach us something about progress in global health: selective funding for narrow targets do little when unpredicted diseases or ailments emerge. Meaning, we may target Ebola and Zika as global health priorities, but doing so does nothing to prepare us for the next emergent health crisis. 

To truly make a difference, global health initiatives must directly target weakened health systems, not narrow initiatives.

From The Hill.

Post date: Wednesday, December 7, 2016 - 3:52pm

By Noelle Sullivan, PhD

Both prior to and after the election, prominent Republicans spoke about repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), privatizing Medicare, and making cutbacks to Medicaid. Costs of these programs are the purported justifications for why these plans are targeted for dismantle.

The announcement that ACA premiums would increase by an average of 22 percent only fueled the political firestorm. This reflects a wider trend: the average middle-class family’s healthcare spending has increased 25 percent since 2007, while spending on other basic needs has decreased. 

From The Hill

Post date: Friday, December 2, 2016 - 2:15pm

Northwestern undergrads study health in transition in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina

December 01, 2016 | By Erin Karter

EVANSTON - With the creation of a new study abroad program, Northwestern University undergraduates have a rare opportunity to learn about the collective psychological impacts of war and how communities, once at odds, hope to heal.

The program, which kicked off during the summer quarter, introduces students to the healthcare systems of the former Yugoslavia, where post-conflict mental health services first emerged as a component of humanitarian aid. 

“For those interested in post-conflict countries, this is an incredible opportunity to learn firsthand about the process of rebuilding political and social connections between opposing communities,” said Peter Locke, the architect of the new study abroad program and an assistant professor of instruction in the department of anthropology. 

Post date: Friday, November 18, 2016 - 4:23pm

November 15, 2016 | By Noelle Sullivan, PhD

In the same week the US presidential election dominated headlines, at the International Association for Volunteer Effort conference in Mexico City, Shalil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, addressed the crowd, saying, “in the ecosystem of social good, there is room for every type of approach. As long as we share some common values and are working towards positive social good.” Volunteerism is important and, properly channeled, can be beneficial.

Frequently, we consider poor and vulnerable populations so needy they’re thankful for any help they can get. However, in the realm of international medical volunteering, there are nuances and complexities overlooked when we make room for “every type of approach” without taking seriously the tremendous responsibility that should accompany the desire to help. Unskilled volunteers should do unskilled labor, not professional work that, done wrong, could cause harm.


Post date: Friday, November 18, 2016 - 4:21pm

First Ph.D. program in U.S. trains scientists to see, fix chinks in health care system

November 16, 2016 | By Marla Paul

Why do physicians accidentally jab themselves in the hand with an EpiPen (epinephrine injection) when they are trying to give another person an injection while holding their breath? 

How does directing a “Martian” to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich improve health care communications?  

The answers are part of the curriculum for the first Ph.D. in health care quality and patient safety program in the country — at Northwestern Medicine — which aims to prevent the annual 440,000 deaths from medical errors in the United States. 

Post date: Friday, August 12, 2016 - 11:58am

First effort to use mobile phones to change diabetes risk behaviors across vast, diverse country.

CHICAGO --- A study that sent twice-weekly text messages to a million people in India advising them to exercise, eat less fat, and eat more fruits and vegetables increased these health behaviors known to prevent diabetes, reports new research from Northwestern Medicine and Arogya World, a global health non-profit organization.

This effort is the first to use the power and reach of mobile phones to change diabetes risk behaviors in a large number of people from different parts of a vast country like India. It has implications for diabetes prevention in low and middle-income countries.

Post date: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 - 11:33am

When Marissa Boeck, MD, MPH, chose to spend a year doing research during her general surgery residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, she chose to work under the mentorship of Mamta Swaroop, MD, assistant professor of Surgery in the Division of Trauma and Critical Care, working on furthering the development of Bolivia’s trauma and emergency response system.

Boeck helped develop a hospital-based trauma registry for injury surveillance, to serve as a foundation for future injury prevention strategies and to improve the safety and quality of healthcare delivered. Boeck said she hopes the project, part of the Northwestern Trauma and Surgical Initiative, will strengthen Bolivia’s existing emergency response and trauma system.

Post date: Wednesday, August 10, 2016 - 11:23am

Chicago is no stranger to hosting world-class events and festivals. What many participants and fans don’t think about as they enjoy themselves is the world-class team behind the scenes that is prepared for any type of unexpected situation such as extreme weather or other safety threats.  

George Chiampas, DO, FACEP, CAQSM, assistant professor in the Departments of Emergency Medicine and Orthopaedic Surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, is involved with international organizations that focus on medical coverage for mass participation events, specifically marathons.

Dr. Chiampas is the medical director for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, and his preparedness plan has been used as a model for other large-scale events around Chicago. His best practices are infused with international learnings from organizations such as the International Institute for Race Medicine and the Abbott World Marathon Majors.