News

Post date: Wed, 04/19/2017 - 12:36

By Noelle Sullivan, PhD

With famine threatening Africa, charities need our support. But think before you act.

A potentially catastrophic global crisis looms. Famine threatens Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen and Nigeria – countries mired in conflict. Humanitarian agencies that ordinarily respond are strapped for cash to fund critical relief efforts, possibly due to failures of previous humanitarian efforts to demonstrate that donations went where intended.

Many have turned to their purchasing power in support of causes, from buying red noses at Walgreens to end child poverty, to Toms shoes so children in poor countries get a pair, too. However, as faculty in global health studies and anthropology at Northwestern University, I've seen firsthand the effects of well-intentioned purchasing choices and material donations. Those purchased products for a cause, and our donated goods – clothes, toys, shoes, kitchen items – have unintended consequences, in part because from afar, we don't know what is actually useful, and because there's something alluring to purchasing something for ourselves and knowing it helps someone else. The fact is, these purchases and material donations often do more harm than good.

From US News and World Report

Post date: Wed, 04/19/2017 - 09:57

As the first place winner of Northwestern University’s 4th Annual Intramural Global Health Case Competition, earlier this year, Maximus Wang, MPH, first-year MD/PhD student in the Medical Scientist Training Program, and his team traveled to Emory University for the international competition. For the competition, they were tasked with creating and presenting a plan to address mental health issues in children in Liberia.

During the Northwestern competition, graduate and undergraduate students from different schools came together to develop solutions to global health challenges. The Center for Global Health co-sponsored the case competition with Weinberg’s Global Health program, the Program in African Studies, and the Pritzker Law School’s International Human Rights program.

Post date: Fri, 04/14/2017 - 12:17

By Noelle Sullivan, PhD

The law cares about actions and outcomes, not intentions. When it comes to volunteering, so should we.

Sidney Peters. She’s the whole package: an incredibly talented athlete, an emergency medical technician (EMT), and an aspiring Coast Guard physician. She combines excellence, perseverance, and a sincere desire to do good under adverse circumstances.

Peters is the starting goalie of the University of Minnesota Women’s Hockey Team. The Minnesota Gophers hoped to become the second women’s hockey team in NCAA history to win three straight national championships. Clarkson ultimately won. But a main reason the Gophers got to the semi-finals was because Peters’ talents were able to pull the team out of a serious slump. No one expected Peters to turn things around for her team. She became a major story.

Asked how she kept her cool on the ice, Peters cited perspective she gained during a brief trip to Haiti last summer, where she volunteered as an EMT in a hospital. She treated patients with AIDS, tuberculosis, gun shot and stab wounds. She even learned to suture. She called it a “hands-on medical experience” that might help her get into medical school, but more importantly, allowed her to help others. By comparison, stress on the ice was relative.

From Role Reboot.

Post date: Fri, 04/14/2017 - 10:59

By Elizabeth Byrne, Reporter
April 14, 2017

Northwestern professors and representatives from various global health-oriented student groups spoke during a Thursday event about the need for increased collaboration on international sustainability efforts.

Northwestern Global Brigades, Engineers for a Sustainable World and AIESEC, a global nonprofit that organizes service trips for university students, organized the panel as part of Global Sustainability Week. The panel featured anthropology and global health studies Prof. Peter Locke, lecturer Michael Diamond and McCormick Prof. Kimberly Gray.

From The Daily Northwestern

Post date: Wed, 04/12/2017 - 13:53

International research team to develop cross-cultural water measurement scale

Though an estimated two billion people drink unsafe water around the globe, there are currently no methods to precisely measure how many people are affected by not having enough water for all aspects of their daily lives.

This lack of measurement makes it difficult to pinpoint effective interventions to improve water insecurity and water-related illnesses. To better measure water insecurity, researchers need to assess whether people have reliable access to water in sufficient quality and quantity for all activities.

Under a new £250,000 (approximately $310,000) grant from the U.K.-funded Innovative Metrics and Methods for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA) research initiative, Northwestern University anthropologist Sera Young, a fellow in the University's Institute for Policy Research, and an international team of researchers seek to develop a cross-cultural scale of perceived household water insecurity. IMMANA is supported by UK Aid from the British government's Department for International Development.

Post date: Tue, 04/04/2017 - 13:38

By Noelle Sullivan, PhD

In anticipation of World Health Day on April 7, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report showing rates of depression increased 18 percent between 2005 and 2015, now estimated to afflict over 300 million people worldwide. Approximately 800,000 people commit suicide each year. According to the WHO, poverty and unemployment are leading causes.

To be sure, mental health services are in critically short supply globally. While often correlated with poverty, mental illnesses can cause misery regardless of one's socioeconomic status.

However, as a faculty member in Global Health Studies at Northwestern University, I find it striking that the WHO highlights poverty and unemployment as leading causes of depression, yet suggests exercise, school-based prevention programs, therapy and medication to solve it. If poverty and unemployment are major causes of depression, shouldn't our remedies address economic drivers of poverty and unemployment, rather than narrowly focusing on school programs and exercise? Is expanding mental illness solely a health issue, or is it also a foreseeable response to expanding economic stress?

From TruthOut.

Post date: Wed, 03/15/2017 - 10:52

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: Fri, 02/10/2017 - 10:52

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: Thu, 01/19/2017 - 12:43

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: Wed, 12/07/2016 - 15:52

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

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