News

Post date: Friday, April 14, 2017 - 10:59am

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: Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - 1:53pm

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: Tuesday, April 4, 2017 - 1:38pm

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: 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.

From VICE

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. 

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