Category Archives: Information and Social Media

Media Wars: #Ferguson, American Hypocrisy and a Hint of Spring

This was originally posted on my professional blog.

America has experienced an ugly spotlight reversal with the eruption of popular discontent into violence in its own backyard. Just a few weeks ago, international media was buzzing with reports of ISIS steamrolling the Iraqi military and Russian-supported separatists in Ukraine shooting down passenger airlines. Now, the US squirms uncomfortably under international scrutiny of Ferguson, Missouri, where the shooting of a young black man by a white police officer has once again raised the specter of racism and police brutality.

Obviously, the incident itself is complicated. Eyewitnesses – who have given conflicting testimonies – are the only window into what happened, since there was no dashboard camera. The initial description of Michael Brown, the victim of the shooting, as a “gentle giant” about to start college clashed with video footage of him stealing a box of cigarillos from a convenience store. Commentators have drawn parallels with the case of Trayvon Martin, whose mother has now reached out to Brown’s mother. Peaceful protests have given way to violence and looting, reporters have been arrested, and witnesses have complained of excessive use of force by the police.

Social media, which played a major role in bringing media attention to Ferguson in the first place, has played host to the battleground of ideological responses to the incident. The primary complaint from conservatives is that the uprising in Ferguson, and the underlying racial tensions it has exposed, don’t deserve our consideration because some of the protesters have been looting and vandalizing stores…

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…including a few gems that actually blame the community for the excessive force used against it.

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Meanwhile, people used the Twitter hastag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown to spar over which photos of Brown were used by traditional media (wearing a cap and gown vs. striking a “thug” pose) and post their own side-by-side pictures. Still others are expressing frustration at the fact that the vandalism and looting has been used as a straw man to distract from ongoing widespread racial profiling and policy brutality against blacks, including one refreshingly blunt protester at a rally in DC:

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What has been the most interesting to me is the global shock and horror at the incident and resulting fallout. The international community sees what many Americans are apparently missing: that the protests and unrest in Ferguson are the manifestation of a minority group sick of being oppressed and ignored. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights drew parallels to South African apartheid, while several countries have been using the situation to take shots at America’s own human rights record when we so often criticize other countries. One might expect Iran and Russia troll the US over civil unrest, but as one friend of mine pointed out on Facebook, “When Egypt calls you out for human rights abuses, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.”

American police brutality, and the unwillingness of many police departments to be held accountable for their actions, have also been focal points. What happened to Michael Brown will unfortunately always be shrouded in mystery, since the Ferguson police department apparently prioritizes riot gear and tear gas over cameras for officers or police cruisers. They also seemed to have forgotten the meaning of “free press,” as they arrested and harassed several reporters who were trying to cover the protests. Interestingly, Obama was quick to condemn the bullying of journalists “here in the United States of America,” despite his own administration’s secrecy and aggression toward the press, including prosecuting a journalist who refused to identify the source of an intelligence leak.

Indeed, many observers have been quick to point out America’s hypocrisy at fingering human rights abuses outside our own borders when we have threads of discontent, similar to those found in the Arab Spring and other global protest movements, woven throughout our own society. A lovely little piece of satire from Vox portrays how American media might describe the events in Ferguson if they happened in another country.

When everything is said and done, America doesn’t look so much like a shining beacon of democracy and human rights – we just kinda look like everybody else.

IHSC June 19th Conference Call with Dr. Pablo Ariel-Mendez, USAID

Please see the following announcement from Mary Carol Jennings of the newly-formed Student Committee.


The International Health Student Committee of the APHA IH Section is the section’s newest student group. As part of the core group of leaders, I wanted to plan a nationwide series of virtual events and conversations about leadership and career decisions in international health. Another group member, Nila Elison, has recently joined me, and together we’re starting the IH Career Development Sub-Committee.

I believe that organizations like APHA can play a valuable role in introducing new public health practitioners to potential mentors. I myself am not following a perfectly straight career path. I’ve worked in community organizing, policy, clinical medicine, and now am finally, formally, in public health, in my second year of the general preventive medicine residency at Johns Hopkins. Only recently have I started to find mentors in people, who like me, have taken similarly non-linear paths.

To set the stage for the upcoming year, our first guest speaker is going to talk about his own career path and his insight on leading a large global public health organization.

Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez is a public health physician who serves as the Assistant Administrator for Global Health at the U.S. Agency for International Development. Appointed by President Obama in 2011,  his work involves implementing the mission of the Global Health Initiative. His impressive resume includes leadership and experience within the World Health Organization, The Rockefeller Foundation, and Columbia University in New York City.

Dr. Pablos-Méndez will join the International Health Student Committee on June 19th from 4-5pm EST, and we hope you’ll take part in the conversation about developing your own career in international health.

We had previously closed registration, but because we want to share the conversation with those who are inspired by this blog post, we have re-opened the RSVP form until June 15th. We also welcome your sharing this with your classmates and school communication forums.

RSVP link: http://bit.ly/1n9J1Xc

A few twitter hashtags: #IHSCspeakers, #GlobalHealthSpeakers #IHSCCareerDevelopment

Details about the conference line number and access code will be sent to your RSVP email.
Follow the IH Student Committee!
APHA connect http://connect.apha.org/group.htm?igid=257321
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/APHA.IHSC/
Twitter @APHA_IHSC

Upcoming Panel Discussion: Hunger in the Age of Climate Change (Washington, DC)

When: Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 1-3pm (Lunch available starting at 12:30pm)
Where: 425 3rd St. SW, Suite 1200, Washington DC 20024

 Today the White House will announce the release of the Third National Climate Assessment.  This report is already garneringnational and international press; climate change is one of the president’s primary areas of focus.  What does the report say about climate change in the United States, and what do these findings mean for hungry and poor people in the United States and globally? Join with members of the faith, environmental, and anti-hunger communities to discuss how we can work together to provide adequate nutrition even as the climate is changing in ways that require new methods of growing, storing, and transporting food.

Invited panelists include:

  • Katharine Hayhoe, one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People and author of A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions
  • William Hohenstein, USDA Climate Change Program Office
  • Lewis Ziska, USDA Agricultural Research Service
  • Jan Ahlen, National Farmers Union
  • Sam Myers, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Margaret Wilder, University of Arizona

Please circulate this invitation among your networks, and RSVP by May 9 at www.bread.org/climate.

Questions? Contact Stacy Cloyd at scloyd@bread.org

FYI: Upcoming USAID Webinar on New Climate Change Document

The USAID Office of Global Climate Change is introducing a new climate resilient development framework to the Adaptation Community.

On April 8, 2014, at 4 p.m. EST, Kit Batten, USAID/GCC Coordinator, and the adaptation team at USAID will lead a special presentation covering in detail a new publication on climate adaptation for developing countries: Climate-Resilient Development: A Framework for Understanding and Addressing Climate Change. Working with decision makers in governments and across sectors, the framework has been applied in Barbados, Jamaica, Nepal, Peru, Philippines, St. Lucia, Tanzania, West Africa, and other countries that are preparing communities for a climate resilient future. The framework describes USAID’s “development-first” approach, which aims to achieve development goals despite climate change. This framework is an update of the approach presented in 2007 in USAID’s Adapting to Climate Variability and Change: A Guidance Manual for Development Planning.

The event will take place on Tuesday, April 8, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. EST.

In-person: Engility, 1211 Connecticut Avenue NW, 8th floor conference room, Washington, DC 20036

Online webinarhttp://irgltd.adobeconnect.com/climate/
Enter page as a Guest and type in your first and last name. Please include the name of your organization in parentheses.

Call-in number:
United States: 1-877-685-7326   Conference code: 8170974215
International: 1-678-735-7838    Conference code: 8170974215

Please send your RSVP by April 6th and questions about the presentation to Joyce-Lynn.Njinga@engilitycorp.com.

An emerging threat of “digital pandemics”- lessons learned from the anti-vaccine movement

SeymourHeadshotGuest blogger: Brittany Seymour, DDS, MPH

During the 20th century alone, the world experienced a larger gain in life expectancy than in all the previously accumulated history of humankind. This triumph has been dubbed one of the greatest achievements in global health and is largely attributed to the 20th century success of vaccines. However, a digital assault (one that began with autism but has ballooned to numerous other concerns) regarding the safety and importance of vaccines has permeated the Internet. Anti-vaccine sentiments, derived from this study – now retracted – perpetuated by celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy and Kristin Cavallari, and other concerned citizens, have gone viral. A “digital pandemic” is underway, and like a game of telephone, the truth has morphed, facts were lost in translation, and the story of vaccines today boggles the mind. Public acceptance and trust in their safety and utility has waned. Regions of the world, including the United States, are experiencing their worst disease outbreaks in nearly two generations (IOW since the invention of the associated vaccines), and many of these are attributed to exemptions from the recommended vaccine schedule. As rotavirus vaccine inventor (and recipient of death threats due to his pro-vaccine work) Paul Offit describes it, every story has a hero, victim, and villain; in this story gone viral, Jenny McCarthy is the hero, the children the victims, which leaves one role for public health experts: the villain.

More recently, is public health at the forefront of yet another digital assault, susceptible once again to the label of villain? Last month, a study with known limitations was released naming fluoride as one of six newly identified developmental toxins in children. Ironically, this followed the American Dental Association’s announcement only two weeks prior that it has changed its longstanding guidelines for the use of fluoride in young children, recommending an increase in fluoride exposure before the age of two years old, as compared to the former recommendations. Yet, within a matter of hours from the release of the study, the story of fluoride as a new threat to normal child development created a flood of posts on Twitter (just search #fluoride) and was covered in popular media news stories for CNN,USA Today, Forbes, and Time. These news sources alone generated over 54,000 views and shares over social media by the end of the weekend. Does fluoride share the same vulnerabilities as vaccines?

To many public health experts, these stories trigger bewildering thoughts. How is it possible that such misguided health information can spread so far so fast, painting public health experts as villains? Is there a way we can reverse our role in this story and emerge the heroes? Lessons learned from the vaccine story provide insights into an emerging threat of digital pandemics and the power of social media as the medium. Public health is encountering an unfamiliar menace, a rising global pandemic of rapid and unrestricted information transfer.

In today’s global society undergoing tremendous technological advances, new and emerging media modalities are greatly affecting health by influencing policy decisions, direction of philanthropic aid, and individual health behaviors. No doubt, due to the power of handheld technology and online social networking,social media and “citizen journalist”have played a role in propagating potential detriment to what is revered as one of public health’s greatest triumphs (vaccines). Thomas Patterson explains that information accuracy is becoming obscured, “The internet is at once a gold mine of solid content and a hellhole of misinformation.” As Nicco Mele illustrates, the internet makes David the new Goliath, where citizens are capitalizing on the power of social media’s velocity and reach, disarming the traditional gatekeepers of information quality.

Even when presented with corrective information, it’s no wonder the public continues to be confused, and concerned, about potential dangers of our intentional public health interventions. But what triggers a digital pandemic, and where is the threshold between an outbreak of bad health information versus a true online pandemic wrought with content persuasion? In a world of expanding voices sharing health information online through social media, how can we ensure that the cream still rises to the top and the public is making health decisions based on the most accurate information possible?These are the big “opportunity” questions we as public health experts need to be addressing under our responsibility to keep today’s citizens, their children, and our societies healthy.

Brittany Seymour is an Instructor on Global Health at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine’s Department of Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology and the Inaugural Harvard Global Health Institute Fellow. Her research includes interdisciplinary global health curriculum development and pedagogy, capacity strengthening for oral health delivery systems in resource-challenged regions, and digital information transfer and impacts on health.

PAHO Call for Applications: Edmundo Granda Ugalde Leaders in international Health Program (LIHP)

PAHO’s Unit of Human Resources for Health, Bioethics and Research is pleased to launch the call for applications for the Edmundo Granda Ugalde Leaders in international Health Program (LIHP) 2014.  As you may be aware, this Program has a long tradition in the Organization, from its inception in 1985 to its current decentralized modality offered through the Virtual Campus for Public Health. To date, 270 persons from 36 countries have participated in the virtual decentralized modality of the LIHP, including program and project directors in health and other ministries, government personnel responsible for international relations and international cooperation, PAHO/WHO country office staff, partners from other international agencies, sub-regional integration bodies and NGOs, members of the Cuban Medical Brigades, and others.

The LIHP 2014 will strive to broaden knowledge and contribute to discussions regarding universal health coverage from an international health perspective, in recognition of its importance in the quest for health equity. The Program plans to facilitate debate on this issue, bringing together regional and global experts as well as promoting the development of country projects related to the same. Additionally, and taking into account the PAHO Strategic Plan 2014-2019 and the myriad challenges facing the Region, the LIHP will continue to support the analysis of other topics, including chronic diseases, food security, health diplomacy, and access to medicines, among others.

We invite you to disseminate information on the program in the attached brochure. Additional information including eligibility, application procedures and program requirements are available here.

For any questions, please see below for contact information:

Edmundo Granda Ugalde Leaders in International Health Program
Department of Health Systems and Services
Pan American Health Organization
525 Twenty-third St., NW
Washington,DC 20037-2895
Tel: (202) 974-3803
Fax: (202) 974-3612
email: INTLHLTH@paho.org

CSIS Event: The Launch of the Global Health Security Agenda

What: The Launch of the Global Health Security Agenda
When: February 13, 2014 from 3:00pm-4:30pm (EST)
Where: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, D.C., 20036
RSVP: http://www.SmartGlobalHealth.org/GHSAgenda

Please join us as Dr. Thomas C. Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Ms. Laura Holgate, Senior Director, WMD Terrorism and Threat Reduction, National Security Council, discuss the administration’s launch of the new Global Health Security Agenda at 3:00pm on Thursday, February 13, at CSIS in the 2nd floor conference room. (Click here to learn more.) It is a timely opportunity to hear directly from them about the GHS Agenda’s genesis, key elements and future implementation.

It is also the occasion for the NGO sector to engage with Dr. Frieden and Senior Director Holgate and add their voice. Independent scientific, security and health experts will offer their perspectives on the GHS Agenda, including how they might in the future best contribute substantively to it. On the dais, kicking off that conversation will be Deborah Rosenblum, NTI, Kavita Berger, AAAS, Tom Inglesby, UPMC, and Nigel Lightfoot, CORDS. We are delighted that their respective organizations are, along with CSIS, co-sponsors of this event.

This event will be webcast live at: http://www.SmartGlobalHealth.org/Live.

USAID Global Health Fellows II Program Webinar: Next Wednesday at 2 p.m. EST

The following announcement is from USAID’s Global Health Fellows II program.


Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Prepared – Be a Global Health Intern Next Summer!

Are you ready to gain crucial global health experience with the largest donor agency in the world? Then it’s time to prep for the Global Health Fellows Program II (GHFP-II) summer 2014 internship application! Register now for our upcoming webinar to learn about our highly-competitive compensated internships with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Washington, DC. You can apply for internships online in January 2014, and the webinar will give you ideas about important steps to start taking now.

GHFP-II is a premier global health program that places fellows and interns with USAID in Washington, D.C. and abroad, and provides them with expert professional and career development support. We have over 130 active fellows, and a summer cohort of about 30 interns, with other internships throughout the year.

Complimentary Webinar: Wednesday, September 18th, 11 am PST / 2 pm EST

Be prepared. To help you succeed in landing your summer internship, we’re offering an interactive webinar during which former interns and GHFP-II staff will present the collective wisdom of our recruitment and outreach teams to assist you in successfully positioning yourself for a GHFP-II internship. Included in the discussion will be an emphasis on applicants’ diverse experiences, “distance traveled,” and community influences.

Answers to Your Questions!

What would you ask a global health recruiter if you had the chance? When you register for this webinar, we invite you to submit a burning question, and we will shape the content of the presentation to answer actual questions from you and your peers. Submit your questions early!

Tune in to learn about:

  • GHFP-II and USAID
  • the GHFP-II internship application process
  • the intern experience, straight from the source
  • What you can do now to make your application stand out!

This webinar comes at no cost to you, and is available wherever internet access is available. Register today, as spots are limited!

GHFP-II Webinar

Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Prepared – Be a Global Health Intern Next Summer!

Date and Time

Wednesday September 18th, 2013 | 2 – 3:30 pm EST | 11 am – 12:30 pm PST

Click here for registration.

Jimmy Carter, New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof, and Carter Center’s Donald Hopkins To Cover Global Health Challenges in New Conversation on Google+ Series

The following is an announcement about an upcoming social media event hosted by the Carter Center.


On Sept. 10 at 3 p.m. ET, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, and Carter Center disease eradication expert Dr. Donald R. Hopkins will hold a special video chat, “Global Health: How We Can Make a Difference,” to kick off a new Conversations on Google+ series that is launching later this fall.

Leading up to the event, from Sept. 4-10, President Carter and Mr. Kristof will participate in online discussions on the social media platform Google+ about the challenges of eradicating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) when the world is focused on security issues and offer their ideas for progress.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE SEPT. 4-10:

Anyone can join the conversation, Sept. 4 – 10, 2013, when President Carter and Mr. Kristof will post discussion questions on global health to members of the American Public Health Association’s Google+ Public Health Community (direct link below).

Anyone on Google+ can join this Community and share their health-related comments with Carter and Kristof. Participants with the most insightful and thoughtful comments will be selected to join a special Conversations on Google+ online broadcast with President Carter, Mr. Kristof, and Dr. Hopkins live on Sept. 10.

Sign up for Google+, a social media platform, by visiting https://plus.google.com/.

Google+ users can join the Public Health Community by clicking on the “join community” button at the following link: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/109215334990434447518.

CONVERSATIONS ON GOOGLE+ LIVE BROADCAST SEPT. 10:

Tune-in on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 3 p.m. ET for a live broadcast of a Conversation on Google+ hosted by The Carter Center and featuring President Carter, Mr. Kristof, Dr. Hopkins, and selected participants from Google+’s Public Health Community.

Conversations on Google+ allows everyday users the opportunity to engage global experts in discussions on the issues that matter to them. The Conversations on Google+ series will continue with other high profile speakers later in the year.

Anyone can watch the event live or in archive from several locations online:

TWEET WITH US: The Carter Center will be live-tweeting the Sept. 10 event from @CarterCenter using the hashtag #CarterConvo.

WHAT ARE NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASES?

NTDs are a group of 17 illnesses that affect more 500 million children and more than 1 billion people worldwide. Often found in the world’s most disadvantaged communities, NTDs can cause severe disability, robbing people of the opportunity to improve their own lives. Children suffering from NTDs often cannot attend school and adult sufferers may be less able to work, harvest food, or care for their families. The Carter Center is a leader in the eradication, elimination, and control of neglected tropical diseases, fighting six preventable diseases — Guinea worm, river blindness, trachoma, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, and malaria — by using health education and simple, low-cost methods.

ABOUT THE EXPERTS:

  • President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, founded The Carter Center in 1986 in partnership with Emory University to alleviate suffering worldwide. A long champion of campaigns to wipe out neglected diseases, in 2002, President Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development” through his work with the Center.
  • Nicholas D. Kristof is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Op-Ed columnist of The New York Times, best known for writing about poverty, disease, and marginalization around the world.
  • Dr. Donald R. Hopkins is the Carter Center’s vice president for health programs and a former interim director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A medical doctor, he is internationally recognized for his work on NTDs and disease eradication, including smallpox and Guinea worm disease.

About Google+ :

Google+ is a sharing and communications platform that brings your real-world friendships and relationships online for a fun, interactive experience—as well as lets you make new friends and connections with people who share your passions and interests. Much more than a social network, Google+ makes it even easier to use other Google products, share content, and use integrated text and video chat—all for free. https://plus.google.com/

About The Carter Center:

A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers in developing nations to increase crop production. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

Follow Nicholas Kristof on Social Media:

The Many Paths Towards Universal Health Coverage: WHO Video Review

This post was written by Niniola Soleye.

Universal health care (UHC) is a hot topic in global health right now. The United Nations, World Health Organization (WHO), and World Bank have all endorsed UHC. Further, UHC has played a prominent role in discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals, which will build on the Millennium Development Goals and support the post-2015 development agenda. The WHO put together a video to explain UHC and show how some countries are providing universal access to basic health care services.

As Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO said in the video, “Universal health coverage is the most powerful concept that public health has to offer.” The key to UHC is that it allows for equity within a health system. It guarantees health care to all members of a population and overcomes the challenges of unavailable or unaffordable services, which is often the case in modern health care settings.

The video highlights UHC in six countries – China, Oman, Mexico, Rwanda, Thailand, and Turkey. It shows how each country is addressing their health care system and making progress towards UHC.

I found it very interesting to see the differences between each country. It really drove home the point that there is no single UHC approach or model that will work for every country. The journey towards UHC is unique and varied. For example, in China the emphasis is on how to cover as many people as possible. In Oman, the focus is on access because their population, while small, is widely dispersed throughout the country. Mexico, Thailand, and Turkey are working on expanding the type and quality of services provided, while Rwanda has increased coverage from 7% to 97% in the last decade.

The main takeaways from the ten-minute video are the importance and benefits of UHC, the challenges in implementing it, and the various models that allow countries to work towards providing basic primary care to everyone.

Innovative Malaria Research in Southeast Asia: a UCI GHREAT Initiative (Video Review)

by Niniola Soleye

The University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) recently released the first video in their four-part series showcasing the success of their Global Health Research, Education and Translation (GHREAT) Initiative. The initiative is headed by IH section member Dr. Brandon Brown. The goal of the video series is to demonstrate how GHREAT projects are enhancing health and saving lives all over the world. This first video was shot in Thailand and focuses on malaria research in Southeast Asia.

Myanmar has the largest number of malaria cases in Asia. Due to the poor economic conditions in the country, people immigrate to neighboring countries, including Thailand, to look for employment opportunities. Additionally, there has been an increase in drug-resistant malaria and an influx of counterfeit drugs. That, coupled with poverty and people not having funds to travel to the hospital or buy medicine, has resulted in malaria becoming a major public health problem in the region.

UC Irvine faculty, staff, and students partnered with the ministry of health, hospital workers, local health workers, and academic researchers in China, Myanmar, and Thailand to study malaria control in the border regions, and develop solutions for containing the malaria outbreak.

The video shows the UC Irvine team observing local health workers as they perform diagnostic blood-tests for malaria in Thai villages. Their observations led them to focus their efforts for this project on developing an innovative, non-invasive diagnostic test using saliva instead of blood.

Untreated, malaria can lead to death two to three weeks after infection, so early diagnosis and treatment are key. Blood testing requires workers to send samples away daily, delaying the start of treatment. Using saliva would allow for a fast, portable, low-cost diagnostic tool, all critical factors in a developing country setting.

One scene that stood out showed a young child getting tested for malaria. She was crying because she didn’t want to get her finger pricked, and also because she was afraid of the health worker. In situations like that, the new test would be quite beneficial.

Overall, the video does a good job of emphasizing how direct, firsthand experiences and observations are important when trying to innovate and solve problems in global health. I would have liked to hear more about the technique behind the saliva test, their border control efforts, how they plan to deal with the counterfeit drug problem, and how they’ll address drug-resistant malaria but the video doesn’t go into detail on those topics.

Click here to watch the video.

Review: “EXPOSED” Film Series by Aeras

EXPOSED: The Race Against Tuberculosis (video review)

This post was written together with Niniola Soleye.

EXPOSED: The Race Against Tuberculosis is a series of four short films (about ten minutes each) about the global epidemic of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB). The series was produced by Aeras, a biotech company working toward a tuberculosis vaccine. It features personal stories from patients, as well as commentary from physicians, researchers, policymakers, and experts around the world.

The global health community has seen TB morph from a death sentence to a treatable disease with antibiotics to an increasingly drug-resistant (and persistent) monster – thus completing the cycle and essentially bringing it back to a death sentence in the case of XDR-TB. Even more terrifying is the emergence of totally drug-resistant TB (that’s TDR-TB) in Iran, India, and Western Europe.

From testing and treatment costs to lost wages and productivity costs, TB, especially DR-TB, is also a very expensive disease. The first video, which features a woman from Tennessee, really drives the point home. She went on a short mission trip with her church to South Africa, where she contracted a strain of TB that was resistant to seven drugs, and wound up in isolation for two years. The total treatment course cost the health department over $1 million – a case in point of how the uninformed desire to “do something” can do more harm than good.

The purpose of the video series, in addition to raising awareness about drug-resistant tuberculosis, is to build support for Aeras’s mission to develop a TB vaccine. Currently, there is no effective vaccine against the most infectious form of tuberculosis, pulmonary TB. The BCG vaccine which was developed 90 years ago does not prevent the majority of TB cases. While the movies play to the emotional side to a certain extent, and I wasn’t crazy about the fact that they opened the series with a profile of a Westerner who “just wanted to help,” I felt that the series did an overall good job of giving voice to individuals in the developing world who are most immediately affected by the disease – both a survivor of treatment and a woman who is volunteering in a clinical trial for a vaccine candidate.

You can watch the films here.

US Partnership with Africa: Economic Growth and Global Development – Rajiv Shah (CGDev Video)

This is another (fairly long) video from the Center for Global Development featuring a high-profile speaker, USAID Director Rajiv Shah. This hour-long dialogue between Shah and Nancy Birdsall, CGDev president, focused on President Obama’s recent trip to Africa and covers a wide range of topics. Obviously, it can be difficult to get government officials – especially high-level ones – to deviate from the official line and get out of bureaucratic-speak, but Birdsall does try to push him a little bit, I think. They also take audience questions during the second half of the video. The first video, of the entire dialogue, is about an hour long; the following videos are clips of the interview focusing on specific topics.



The Center for Global Development was pleased to host USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah for a discussion of the US partnership with Africa. Shah was just back from accompanying President Obama in Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania, where the president outlined a vision for US-Africa relations that puts a premium on economic opportunity, democracy, and African-led approaches to development.

At the event, Shah discussed the administration’s new commitments and USAID’s role in doubling electric power in Africa, working with young African leaders, boosting food security and global health, and attracting trade and investment to the continent.


Short Clip: Trade and the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)

Short Clip: Update on Feed the Future

Short Clip: Energy as Constraint to Economic Growth

Short Clip: USAID and the Future of Development

Short Clip: Prospects for Food Aid Reform

QUAMED and OFDA Joint Briefing on Quality of Medicines in Humanitarian Assistance Programs

Wednesday, July 10, 2013
2:30-4:00 pm

InterAction
1400 16th St., N.W., Suite 210
Washington, D.C. 20036
Call in available: 202-667-8227; ask for the QUAMAD briefing

Please join us on Wednesday, July 10 at 2:30 for a joint presentation on QUAMED and OFDA activities to assure the procurement of safe, effective, quality pharmaceuticals in low income / developing countries.

Christophe Luyckx from QUAMED (www.quamed.org) will discuss the extent and dangers of substandard and counterfeit medicines in developing countries and the measures being implemented to address this health menace. QUAMED is a program of the Institute of Tropical Medicine (Antwerp, Belgium) that seeks to improve access to quality medicines in developing countries by establishing a network of non-profit organizations involved in supplying medicines.

QUAMED members include both humanitarian non-governmental organizations and non-profit procurement centers in developing countries. The QUAMED network currently includes 29 partners in more than 13 countries. These QUAMED members are responsible for providing services to more than 90 million patients all around the world.

Alexandr Kosyak, USAID / OFDA Pharmacist, will present on USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance OFDA’s pharmaceutical approval procedures and the pharmaceutical wholesaler pre-qualification program. The discussion will address the need for assuring that only safe, effective, quality pharmaceuticals are purchased from procurement centers (pharmaceutical wholesalers) that conform to GDPs and GSPs.

Participants will gain a better understanding of the problems surrounding the procurement of pharmaceuticals in low income / developing nations and how NGO partners may avoid harming the very beneficiaries they are trying to aid.

Please RSVP to
Danielle Heiberg, dheiberg@interaction.org

MSF Video: HIV/AIDS in Yemen

This video, done by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), focuses on the stigma faced by individuals with HIV/AIDS in Yemen. The HIV prevalence rate in Yemen, and in the Middle East in general, is very low compared with most other regions in the world. However, individuals with HIV face intense stigma and discrimination from family, society, and healthcare providers. In addition to several doctors and project managers, two people with HIV are interview and tell the stories of how they were refused treatment and cast off by their families. It is an interesting look at HIV in a region that typically receives very little attention for it.



HIV is not a major epidemic in Yemen; prevalence is estimated at about 0.2 per cent of the population. However, people living with HIV face stigma and discrimination almost everywhere, even in some health facilities. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is working to provide treatment and help fight the stigma