The Global Health Fellows had an especially busy and productive October, most of which was centered around the recently released Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
Outside of that topic, we had the good fortune to hear other perspectives on health, wellbeing, and the areas in which we’ve worked. On October 8th, several GHFs were invited by the Literacy Fellows Program to attend the concluding event of the 2015 ODU Literary Festival, where acclaimed Haitian novelist Edwidge Danticat delivered a profound address on the nature of her artistic craft and the state of the Haitian nation and Haitian people. The theme of the Literary Festival was “A Place to Stand,” adapted from the words of Archimedes: “Give me a place to stand and I will move the earth.” Ms. Danticat explored this theme in the thorough, thoughtful manner characteristic of a lifelong writer. Her talk made the GHFs present consider Archimedes’ quote in the context of our own work as Global Health Fellows. We feel fortunate to call Norfolk Academy our place to stand, and we are ever affirmed in our mission to move the earth by making its peoples happier and healthier.
After the Global Goals for Sustainable Development were announced at the end of September, each Fellow chose a goal on which to essentially become an expert. Fellows then created presentations about their chosen goals to share with the group. Brian Peccie ’16 presented on Goal 11: Sustainable Cities & Communities, and discussed how road safety relates to public health. For example, the world’s most cost-effective global health intervention is not anything directly related to healthcare, but in fact the installation of speed bumps in areas of heavy road traffic. Helen Shaves ’17 presented on Goal 13: Climate Action and highlighted the success that Brazil has seen in reducing deforestation. James Hood ’19 bore the significant burden of presenting on the most ambitious of the goals, Goal 1: Eliminate Poverty in All its Forms. He noted that Goal 1 offers especially open pathways to overlap with other goals, and that many interventions addressing poverty will also, by their very nature, help achieve more of the targets laid out by the United Nations. James also shared examples of particularly successful projects, such as a livelihood campaign in Colombia and infrastructure expansion in Mauritania, created by the United Nations Development Program to reduce poverty.
The GHFs are becoming experts on the Global Goals in preparation for the first-ever Global Health Day, an all-day, secondary school-wide, Fellow-designed seminar devoted to teaching Norfolk Academy students about global health and development. The Fellows have decided to structure the day’s schedule around the Global Goals, of which only one is strictly devoted to medicine, in order to show the wide-reaching consequences and effects of good health on a society — and, in turn, the importance of ensuring sound quality of an and access to care for the world’s underserved populations. (Global Health Day will be on April 4, 2016 — mark your calendars!)
In a new project for this year, each Fellow also wrote a short op-ed on a global health or development topic that was of interest to them. We will be publishing the best of those on this blog in the next week or two. Stay tuned! Also still to come: GHF ’19 Andrew Thetford’s reflections on his class’s community service opportunity at LifeNet Health.