Over the past few months, the Global Health Fellows, Class of 2016, have led one another in analyzing case studies exploring successful public health interventions across the globe.
Ms. Massey kicked off the presentations with a look at Preventing HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Thailand. Elizabeth Lilly ’16 reflected, “Previously I’d felt a little uncomfortable with the topic of HIV/AIDS. It’s such a huge issue in the global health arena, but I didn’t know anything about it before Ms. Massey presented. I was so glad that I learned about it so fully. As for Thailand’s approach to the problem, it was fascinating to see how a huge media push could produce such booming and widespread results. It’s a personal topic, obviously, but keeping it in the shadows is only going to make the situation worse.”
Wyatt Miller ’16 led a discussion on Controlling Chagas Disease in the Southern Cone of South America. Stuart Luter ’16 reflected, “ I thought that it was interesting to read and discuss a case study that deals with prevention versus treatment. It was interesting to see how effective prevention can really be, and how essential it is to prevent a disease especially when it can’t be treated. The most interesting part of the case study was the way in which the countries came together to solve a health crisis. Relationships between countries play a huge factor in health, and it was interesting to observe the parallel between International Relations and Global Health.”
Stuart Luter ’16 taught the cohort about Controlling onchocerciasis in sub-Saharan Africa. Elizabeth Lilly ’16 reflected, “It was interesting once again to learn about an exotic disease with which I was not familiar in the slightest. The multinational approach to combating the problem was something we’d seen in Wyatt’s case study on Chagas disease, and in the case of the OCP it merely reinforced something we’ve been learning for a while: that to truly make global change, countries must work together. Merck’s distribution of Mectizan is incredibly inspiring to me – here is a company with a vision to change the world, and they live up to their promise.” Wyatt Miller ’16 adds, “Before Stuart led this case study, I had no clue that blindness due to this disease was such a problem in Africa. I think that the success of the program has greatly to do with the enormous amount of countries that it included and also the fact that the company Merck was kind enough to donate meds “to anyone who needed it, for as long as it was needed”. Large health interventions that encompass many countries seem to be more successful than smaller health interventions because the countries involved pressure each other to continue to participate. Also the fact that Merck was willing to donate so many meds was incredibly helpful. The tech breakthrough of discovering Mectizan and then the distribution of this drug to Africa averted many cases of blindness and many losses of DALYs.”
Bridget Dickinson ’16 led the group in exploring Treating Cataracts in India. Elizabeth Lilly ’16 commented, “This was one of the first diseases/health concerns that we’ve studied which is also seen stateside; of course, here, we don’t really see cataracts that often since they are surgically removed so quickly after they arise. What I found particularly fascinating about this case study is the Aravind Eye Hospital, and Dr. Venkataswamy‘s “franchise” approach. He does have a point: if one can buy the same quality burger from the same quality establishment from nearly any McDonald’s in the world (and there are many), why can the same not be true for adequate eye care? The hospital’s approach of asking those who can pay to provide for others’ surgeries seems to be working well, especially since the cost of a single surgery is a mere $10.”
Brian Peccie ’16 taught the group about the highly contagious respiratory disease, measles, and looked at Eliminating Measles in Southern Africa. Wyatt Miller ’16 commented, “Brian’s case study on measles taught me a lot about the harmful and fatal effects of measles on children. What is most appalling about these deaths is that with a vaccine and a booster shot basically all of these deaths can be averted. Seven countries in Sub-Saharan Africa proved their ability to fight this disease after introducing a program which provided vaccines to children. This program caused an almost 100% drop in cases of measles and a 100% drop in death from measles. I believe that the huge success is due to the innovative ‘Catch Up, Keep Up, Follow Up’ program. This program made sure that all the countries not only caught up to the others in its distribution of vaccines but also continued to distribute them. The fact that there is a successful vaccine that can prevent children from getting measles also makes it much easier to fight the disease. Therefore the effective program along with the distribution of vaccines to southern Africa led to the enormous drop in measles cases and deaths.”
Aneesh Dhawan ’16 explained the infectious disease tuberculosis to his peers and directed a look at Controlling Tuberculosis in China.
The Global Health Fellows ’16 were fortunate to spend a Sunday afternoon with Dr. Lisbet Hanson, who led the group through a Harvard Medical School case study, “Treating Malnutrition in Haiti with Read-to-Use Therapeutic Foods.” The group enjoyed returning to the context of Haiti and working again with the always inspiring and engaging Dr. Hanson.