Monthly Archives: March 2012

And we wonder at the growing obesity epidemic…

Global health advocates are becoming increasingly vocal about the growing international obesity epidemic, and all of the complications that come with it (e.g. cancer, diabetes, etc.). I have been traveling all across the state during the last few weeks for my day job (I coordinate a surveillance program at the  state health department), so I have been spending a lot of time in airports. Here is a shot of a drink vending machine at one of them.

Yep, that’s right: rows and rows of sodas and sugar-sweetened beverages, and no water. Next to this machine is a snack machine (naturally full of candy and salty snacks) and next to that was a coffee machine. There was no place in this tiny airport to buy a bottle of water.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why over a third (35.7%) of Americans are obese.

WHO Video: Healthy ageing — adding life to years

Dude…this video is awesome. I especially love the music.

For the first time in human history, the world will soon have more older people than children. The human race is ageing and we are unprepared. Unless we change the way we think and act about ageing, we will miss the opportunity to age in good health and to build a society where older people are respected and valued members of society. That is why this year the World Health Organization is dedicating it’s birthday – on 7 April – World Health Day – to healthy ageing. Watch and share the official World Health Day 2012 video, and join the conversation on healthy ageing on Twitter #AddHealth2Life to be part of the change.

KONY 2012: Activists and Analysts Arm for Battle (again)

The spark of controversy has been struck again. A video released recently by Invisible Children, an activism and aid organization dedicated to fighting the destruction and chaos caused by Joseph Kony’s marauding militia, the LRA, has gone viral. In 48 hours the half-hour video saw millions of hits on YouTube and was re-tweeted, Google-plus-ed, and shared on Facebook around the world. In this video, Invisible Children summarized the conflict created by the LRA in Uganda and their practices of kidnapping children, and called on viewers to make Joseph Kony a household name in 2012. The point of the campaign, the video explains, is to raise awareness – make sure that everyone who has an internet connection knows who he is so that they can put the thumbscrews on major political decision-makers (i.e. the American Congress) to make sure that Kony is captured and the LRA is stopped.

Here is the video.

Frankly, my initial reaction when I saw its length was a “TL/DR,” but I skipped through it and got the general idea.

The response to the video has been outspoken and varied. Many politicians and leaders have praised Invisible Children for drawing attention to the issue and making it accessible and relevant to young people. Analysts and development professionals (and, notably, many Ugandan journalists and activists) have criticized them for oversimplifying the issue and potentially misleading the public. From what I have read, there are three major sticking points.

First, the video focuses on Kony’s crimes in Uganda and the children that he kidnapped there. However, Kony is no longer in Uganda, and has not been for several years; right now, he and his (greatly reduced) militia are mainly active in the border region between the DRC, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. Detractors say that the video is misleading and may give people the impression that the war in Uganda is still going on, and that Kony is still a major player there.

Second – and this is probably the most frequent objection I have read – analysts and scholars argue that the video greatly oversimplifies the situation and makes it seem like capturing Kony will solve the region’s problems. Some argue that removing Kony will not stop the LRA.

Third, many have argued that the focus should not be on capturing Kony, but on something else. That is apparently where the agreement ends. Some say the focus should be on rebuilding northern Uganda; others complain that the Ugandan army has still not been held accountable for its own crimes in the conflict and that the spotlight should be shined on them; still others say that military intervention is not a solution and could further militarize an already unstable region.

Finally, the tried and true argument surrounding the “White Savior Complex” (also known as “Whites in Shining Armor”) has made another appearance.

IC has responded to the criticism with a follow up video:

The furor surrounding the video and the resulting backlash have largely died down at this point (though they experienced a brief revival when Jason had an embarrassing public breakdown), but I thought I would join the tail end of the chorus of unsolicited commentary, because…well because I am a blogger, and that is what we do, after all.

One of the chief complaints from both development commentators and Ugandans has been that the video misrepresents Uganda by leading viewers to believe that Kony is still kidnapping children there, even though it never explicitly says this – Jason makes his case by focusing on Kony’s past crimes in the region. Kony has not been in Uganda for several years (though the LRA is still terrorizing civilians, but this time in the DRC, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic). I can relate to this (as we have established, I am already a cynic), but it seems contradictory to argue that the public can handle complex messaging and discern facts for themselves, and then turn around and say here that millions of viewers would be so easily mislead. You can’t have it both ways.

Plus, the internet has already shown that college students and social media savvy youths that disagree with the movie’s message are ready with retorts – from Sean Bean as Lord Eddard Stark from HBO’s Game of Thrones.

…or Boromir, for all you Lord of the Rings fans out there:
…and the irony of this Antoine Dodson meme is beyond overwhelming:

Even Adolf Hitler has a reaction to IC’s video (in the repeatedly-parodied scene from Downfall):

Here is a fabulous summary of the events surrounding the video as they unfolded and the resulting memes propagated by various social media.

Others have complained that the military contingent is just another group of “Whites in Shining Armor” riding in to fix yet another African problem. I feel compelled to point out that the military support was specifically requested by the government of the Central African Republic, and that they are there for logistical support – the CAR army still bears the responsibility of actually bringing Kony in. Also, advocates against sexual violence in the region, such as Dr. Denis Mukwege of the DRC, have been lobbying for Western intervention to stop these roving militias for years, since the local governments have been incapable of doing anything about them. Is it more chivalrous to refuse to send in “Whites in Shining Armor” when the people ask for help?

And finally, there are arguments that eliminating Kony will not get rid of the LRA. Frankly, I disagree. The LRA is a shadow of what it once was and is largely a personality cult surrounding Kony. LRA soldiers definitely need treatment and programs to re-integrate them into society, but bringing Kony in will do a huge amount to get that process going, in my opinion.

Honestly, it baffles me that more people have not seen the point of the video. Invisible Children’s primary purpose – at least here in the U.S. – is to raise awareness and motivate people to action. The organization started specifically to draw attention to the abduction of children for use as child soldiers. They are not focused on long-term development and sustainable programs, so it doesn’t make sense to use that lens to assess them. It makes logical sense for them to present a situation like this simply and to use emotional pleas to move people to action; political and legislative campaigns do the same thing. The U.S. is entering an era of fiscal austerity, where Congress is trying to cut costs anywhere it can. Add that on top of the fact that this is an election year. Nothing is sacred. Budgets are being slashed. And the only way to ensure continued support – and continued funding – for a contingent of soldiers to help catch an African warlord is to get people outraged enough to call their Congressional representatives.

Call for Prospectuses: SOPHE Book on Global Health Promotion

Deadline for Applications: April 1, 2012

The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) seeks proposals for a Global Health Promotion book. SOPHE uses the World Health Organization (WHO)’s definition of health promotion, which is “the process of enabling people to increase control over their health and its determinants, and thereby increase their health” (WHO, 2005). The book’s intended audience is broadly defined as practitioners, academics, and students.

SOPHE encourages prospectuses that will advance the theoretical foundations, knowledge bases, and practical applications of global health promotion. The book should be rooted in domestic, international, and cross-cultural perspectives. As a result, the most competitive submissions will likely include editors and authors from a wide variety of national and international settings. SOPHE expects the book to be published in 2013.

Items to be Included in the Prospectus:

Authors and Contributors

  • Names, affiliations, addresses, and all other relevant contact information for the lead editor(s) or author(s). If the publication will be an edited volume, include the status of chapter authors (e.g., if selected, list; if still recruiting, describe scheme).
  • Resumes (four to six pages) for each lead editor or author, including relevant education, background experiences, and publications.

Significance and Innovation

  • A clear statement of the book’s importance and timeliness.

Market and Competing Publications

  • The book’s intended audience(s), its competing publications, and the particular gap or niche it will fill.


  • A proposed table of contents or outline that includes, at a minimum, several summary sentences under each book section and chapter heading.
  • Estimated book length, chapter word counts, and number of tables, figures and boxes.
  • An estimated timetable for book completion, intended to meet the publication deadline of 2013.
  • Proposed key features of the book and an explanation of how they will benefit readers (e.g., chapter learning objectives, key terms, glossary, study questions, ancillaries, and web based materials). 

Policy on Expenses and Copyright:

  • SOPHE does not compensate authors or editors for their time, expenses, and efforts.
  • Publication copyright will be held by SOPHE with all net proceeds supporting this non-profit organization. 

Application Format and Submission:

  • Limit prospectuses to 3000 words or less, not including lead author/editor resumes.
  • Submit by April 1, 2012 in hard copy or electronically (preferred) to:SOPHE Office (c/o Global Health Promotion Book), 10 G Street NE, Suite 605, Washington, DC 20002,

Questions: contact Jesus Ramirez-Valles, SOPHE Publications Trustee,

Global Health Weekly News Round-Up

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CSIS Video – The Strategic Power of Vaccines in Zambia

Peace Dividend Trust Video – What’s Wrong with International Aid?

Conference Calls and Radio Shows of Interest

Our very own Mini Murthy and Elvira Beracochea are co-hosting a radio show on the MDGs! The inaugural episode aired last week, but you can listen to it in the archives and tune in for future episodes. They will be on every Thursday at 12 p.m. EST. More information can be found below.

Millennium Development Goals: Progress and Challenges

PROGRAM: Millennium Development Goals
TOPIC OF DISCUSSION: Millennium Development Goals: Progress and Challenges


In 2000, 189 nations made a promise to free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations. This pledge became the eight Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015. The MDGs provide a framework for the entire UN system to work coherently together toward a common end. UNDP, global development network on the ground in 177 countries and territories, is in a unique position to advocate for change, connect countries to knowledge and resources, and coordinate broader efforts at the country level. In September 2010, the world recommitted itself to accelerate progress towards these goals.

The declaration established eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and time-bound targets by which progress can be measured. With the 2015 deadline looming, how much progress has been made? And is the pace of progress sufficient to achieve the goals? The MDGs break down into 21 quantifiable targets that are measured by 60 indicators.

In our inaugural episode we hope to give a brief over view of the progress and challenges made from the year 2000- 2005 and focus on Sub Saharan Africa to review the progress made with reference to MDGs 1 and 4.

Join us as we explore this very important topic on MDGs.

Padmini (Mini) Murthy is a physician and an activist who did her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She has practiced medicine in various countries. She has a Master’s in Public Health and a Masters in Management from New York University (NYU). Murthy has been on the Dean’s list at NYU stein hart School of Education and named Public service scholar at the Robert F Wagner Graduate School at New York University. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist.

Elvira Beracochea, MD, MPH, has more than 25 years of experience that encompass her work as physician, public health and international development expert, human rights advocate, epidemiologist, health policy advisor, researcher, health systems and hospital manager, consultant, professor and coach. She has worked in over 30 countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the South Pacific. Dr Elvira is committed to helping realize the right to health and the right to development and to improving the effectiveness of development assistance. For this reason, in 2005, she founded MIDEGO, an organization with an urgent rights-based mission: accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approved by the United Nations in the year 2000.

The Millennium Development Goal is a weekly discussion on AV Radio based on the Millennium Declaration, adopted by all 189 United Nations Member States in 2000, promised a better world with less poverty, hunger and disease; a world in which mothers and children have a greater chance of surviving and of receiving an education, and where women and girls have the same opportunities as men and boys. It promised a healthier environment and greater cooperation-a world in which developed and developing countries work in partnership for the betterment of all.


Next month, APHA’s Trade and Health Forum will be holding an open Educational Session on Tobacco and International Trade Agreements. It will take place on April 12 at 2:30 PM Pacific/5:30PM Eastern.

The first 30 minutes of the call will be an educational session about recent activity pertaining to alcohol and tobacco in trade agreements and the question of “carve outs”. Donald Zeigler, PhD, Director of Prevention and Healthy Lifestyles at the American Medical Association (AMA) will lead the session. Dr. Zeigler has been active in the Trade and Health Forum, representing the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Section of the American Public Health Association and has been interested in trade and health issues for almost a decade. He was instrumental in getting the AMA to adopt policy on trade and has worked with other medical specialty societies to adopt policy, as well. The AMA recently called on the US Trade Representative to carve out tobacco and alcohol from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
The second 30 minutes of the call will be dedicated to Trade and Health Forum business. You are welcome to join for the full call, and we welcome your input.

To dial in, please call (605) 475-4850 and use the following access code: 810329#. If you have questions, please direct them to Natalie Sampson (nsampson@umich).

Very best,

American Public Health Association’s
Trade & Health Forum Leaders

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Global Health Weekly News Round-Up

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IH Management Call Schedule for this Year

As some of you IH members may already know, the section leadership (composed of elected leadership and committee and working group chairs and co-chairs) hold bi-monthly conference calls to discuss section business and any other pertinent issues that relate to the section or our work over the course of the year. The schedule of calls for this year has been determined and will be as follows:

  • Tuesday 27 March at 1:00pm Eastern time
  • Tuesday 22 May at 1:00pm Eastern time
  • Tuesday 24 July at 1:00pm Eastern time
  • Tuesday 25 September at 1:00pm Eastern time
  • Tuesday 23 October at 1:00pm Eastern time
If you would like to raise a question, suggestion, or concern, please contact a member of leadership (you can find a list of members in elected positions and their contact information here, and chairs of committees and working groups here) and ask him or her to raise it during one of the calls. Don’t be shy – we are here to serve you!

APHA’s 2013 Fellowship in Government: Deadline is April 9

The deadline for applications for the 2013 APHA Fellowship in Government (including CV and three letters of recommendation) for the 2013 APHA Public Health Fellowship in Government is Monday, April 9, 2012.

Applications and additional information are available on APHA’s website. Please note there are two steps to the application process and both parts must be completed by April 9.

For more information, contact Charlene Bright at

The IH Section’s Winter 2012 Newsletter is Up!

The Winter 2012 Newsletter (PDF) has been posted!  Be sure to check out the committee and working group updates (including one on upcoming section elections), links to recent blog entries, and links to fellowship opportunities!

Summer Associate Position with Jacaranda Health

Jacaranda Health is a start up social enterprise that aims to set a new standard for maternity care in East Africa. We are combining business and clinical innovations to create a self-sustaining and scalable chain of clinics that provide reproductive health services to poor urban women. Our model is a combination of two tightly-integrated services (a) Jacaranda Maternities near the slums where women can go for respectful obstetric care, safe delivery, and postnatal care; and (b) mobile vans that create a direct link with our patients, generate demand and healthy outcomes through antenatal care and birth preparedness. Jacaranda has received awards for its model, and we are also planning to work as an “innovation laboratory” for new approaches in improving maternal health, from outreach and marketing, to low-cost mobile technologies.

We are piloting the model in Nairobi with a Jacaranda Maternity and mobile unit. We launched our first mobile clinic last summer and are providing services to women in peri-urban Nairobi. In the next few months we will launch our fixed clinic for deliveries and basic emergency obstetric care.

Job Summary

Jacaranda Health is in an exciting stage of growth, and looking for two Summer Associates to support our business and clinical operations during the summer of 2012. We seek exceptional candidates who are enthusiastic about working in a start-up environment on the cutting edge of healthcare and business. The work program will be tailored to the associate, and we are open to candidates with backgrounds in business or health. Several potential projects include:

  • Quality improvement: how can we improve operations, quality control, customer service to deliver the most cost-effective maternity care in the world, that is also designed with our patients in mind.
  • Technology for clinical operations: We are introducing mobile health technology with smart phones and tablets, to improve clinician decision-making, connect with our clients, and leverage Kenya’s mobile banking infrastructure.
  • Market research: During the summer we will be assessing opportunities for expansion from our pilot clinics. We will need help analyzing client data, revisiting our customer segmentation, and evaluating the highest potential markets and services for our next clinics.
  • New services: Help us evaluate and launch new lines of business, such as ultrasound, micro-insurance, or pediatric care.

Nairobi is an incredibly exciting place to work – a bustling economy and a global hotspot for social entrepreneurship and social investment. Associates will be exposed to a network of entrepreneurs spanning sectors: technology, agriculture, energy and health.

We have a dynamic cross-cultural team in our clinics and main office. Depending on the project, the Summer Associate would work with our Business Operations Manager, Marketing Director, or Clinical Operations Director. Recent graduates could also convert this into a longer-term fellowship opportunity.


  • Full-time 12-week position based in Nairobi
  • Start date: summer 2012
  • The position is a volunteer fellowship, but Jacaranda can offer a stipend for expenses and housing


  • Current student, MBA or MPH, or someone with 3-5 years professional experience and an interest in global health
  • Highly resourceful, independent, and self-starting
  • Flexible and easy-going enough to work in a fluid, cross-cultural startup environment in Nairobi
  • Ability to communicate findings compellingly to colleagues and advisors
  • Desired: experience working in East Africa or a similar setting


  • First-hand experience building a health venture
  • Learn about maternity experience and clinical challenges faced by low-income mothers in peri-urban areas
  • Significant responsibility and independence
  • Opportunities to meet and interact with the region’s top social entrepreneurs working in health, agriculture, and energy

To Apply

Interested candidates should apply by email with an up to date CV and cover letter to Please put “Summer Associate” in the subject line. Deadline: March 15th.

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