Friday, December 12, 2008

Do you wish you could give more this time of year but, being a student, you don't have very much to give! Well, have you considered lending?

As the website says, “Kiva lets you lend to a specific entrepreneur in the developing world – empowering them to life themselves out of poverty.”

It's fun! I contributed $25 to a loan for a woman in Nigeria who wanted to open a small pharmacy. They do gift cards, and I just found out that there's a UM-SPH lending team on Kiva that you can join!

Check it out at

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chinese Public Health Posters

Images are an important tool in the promotion of public health around the world. The National Library of Medicine (part of NIH) has recently created an online exhibition of around 7,000 images titled "Public Health and Chinese Society from 1930s to SARS."

"The collection has a wide range of media presentations: posters, health newsletters, health newspapers, paintings, pharmaceutical advertisements, calendars, children's chess games, jigsaw puzzles on health topics, playing cards on SARS, lantern slides, negatives, photographs, and health award certificates, as well as books and journals. These materials present rich visual representations of public health concerns which were closely tied to the political, social, economic, and even military engagements of China during different time periods."
Here are a few of the images:

"Go to have smallpox vaccination, ca. 1956."

" How baby hookworms get into human bodies (1), 1957."

"Properly cover yourself with bedding during sleep, ca. 1935."

Check out the rest of it at: Chinese Public Health Posters

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa

This week WDI's guest lecturer, Dr. Sebastian Fries, will talk about the pharmaceutical company Pfizer's new strategy to increase global access to medications. Access to essential medications has been an ongoing and controversial issue in areas worst hit by diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and TB.

Ministers of Health from across Africa came together to address this issue at an African Union Conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa last year. They drafted a paper that outlined the advantages of developing local pharmaceutical industries, and presented a plan of action to make that happen. You can read the paper here:

Whether the best way of insuring access to essential medications is by developing local pharmaceutical industries, holding Western pharmaceutical companies more socially accountable, or some other model is part of the ongoing controversy of this issue.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

JSI Publications

John Snow, Inc. (JSI) is an Public Health research and consulting firm that does both domestic and international work. According to their website

JSI builds local capacity to address critical health problems, collaborating with local partners to assist countries, governments, communities, families, and individuals to develop their skills and identify solutions that meet their public health needs. Through management assistance, research and evaluation, education, and training, JSI works to enable agencies and health professionals to provide appropriate services in an effective and compassionate manner.

JSI has published papers on a wide range of public health issues, including environmental health, HIV/AIDS, health care financing, nutrition, and women's health. Most of these publications are available on line though their website:

These publications offer new insights and serve as valuable resources for anyone interested in understanding the issues or doing further research on them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The "Deadly Dozen"

Creating effective solutions to global health problems depends on a wide range of partners. One of these is the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). In 2006 WCS and USAID partnered to create the GAINS program (Global Avian Influenza Network for Surveillance) to track and monitor avian flu. Since then, the group has started to investigate other zoolonotic diseases that it believes pose a threat to international stability and trade.
“Emerging infectious diseases are a major threat to the health and economic stability of the world,” said Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT3), a champion for the GAINS Program. “What we’ve learned from WCS and the GAINS Program is that monitoring wildlife populations for potential health threats is essential in our preparedness and prevention strategy and expanding monitoring beyond bird flu to other deadly diseases must be our immediate next step.”
Last week, the WCS presented findings of a new report called, The Deadly Dozen: Wildlife Diseases in the Age of Climate Change. The report lists 12 zoonotic diseases that are predicted to spread into new regions of the world as a result of global climate change. The following diseases made the list:
  1. Avian influenza
  2. Babesiosis
  3. Cholera
  4. Ebola
  5. Intestinal and external parasites
  6. Lyme disease
  7. Plague
  8. "Red tides"
  9. Rift Valley Fever
  10. Sleeping sickness
  11. Tuberculosis
  12. Yellow fever
You can find more information about the Deadly Dozen report here and here.

-Andy Pritchard

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Village Bicycle Project

Many of us in Public Health feel particularly fortunate to be able to combine our passion with our career goals. We are artists and musicians, writers and researchers, athletes and counselors, and we each try and find our own way to blend these talents with the health interventions we develop, hoping to make the healthy choice the easy, and fun, choice. The Village Bicycle Project (VBP) is a a small organization that ships used bikes to different countries in which the average person cannot afford a car. It is a great example of blending a passion, in this case, for bicycles, with a greater public health mission, here, providing the poor with a means to travel long distances, increase their income, and better support their families.

I invite you to check out the website (, and use the VBP structure to develop your own intervention that uses your strengths in an effort to combat society's weakness. In Ann Arbor, there are certainly many passionate people. There are also many bikes. I invite you to consider participating in the Village Bicycle Project, and to consider using your passion for global public health to create a VBP branch at the University of Michigan.

-William Lopez

Monday, September 29, 2008


The Institute for OneWorld Health is a non-profit pharmaceutical company that develops safe, effective, and affordable new medicines for people with infectious diseases in the developing world. OneWorld Health is a new model for GLOBAL HEALTH. They are entrepreneurial, generate unique opportunities, invent creative solutions.

There is an inspirational video that highlights the founder's passionate journey towards starting OneWorld Health. You can watch the short Uncommon Heroes movie by clicking on the link below:

-Shachi Khichadia

Monday, September 22, 2008

Medical Tourism

The Economist put out a good article on medical tourism:

Over the past few years, increasing attention has been directed at the millions of American's without health insurance. With all the political debates over the years, we have still to come up with a feasible solution for our country's 47 some million "medical refugees." Yet, in a somewhat unexpected way, one answer seems to arise from outside of our country's own borders – the notion of high-quality hospitals in other countries providing cheaper care. Medical tourism.

This whole phenomenon of medical tourism is fascinating to me as a student who has been told several times that healthcare delivery in the United States is local, and limited to the borders of our own country. Global health has traditionally been associated primarily with epidemiology; whereas, the business of hospitals remains the business of the local. But alas, the globalization of healthcare delivery; here is a situation that must be taken seriously. May Clinic and Hopkins are leading the way with branches in Singapore and the UAE. Grameen bank is partnering with a Japanese hospital system to deliver services to its members. Bumrangrad hospital in Thailand already sees thousands of American patients a year. Deloitte estimates that medical tourism will become a $21 billion a year to developing countries in less than 5 years.

Here's an example. Imagine Harold has to pay $60,000 for a spine surgical procedure at his local hospital down the street. Later in the week he sees an online add from a hospital in Thailand that is offering the same surgical procedure plus a luxurious week on a splendid Thai beach, with top quality service and free food, for a mere $30,000. Sounds good, but it's a hospital in Thailand, how good can it be? But then, he later finds out that the hospital is Joint Commission accredited (the highest accreditation that an American hospital can receive), and in fact, the surgeons in the Thailand hospital seem more renowned than his own hospital's. All of a sudden that deal looks pretty good.

Medical tourism is exciting in that, just like every other industry from auto to pharmaceuticals, healthcare delivery is catching the travel bug – its going global too! But, this is not enough. Yes, medical tourism is benefiting the middle-class, and yes medical tourism may lead to more competition, which may lead to better quality service amongst hospitals everywhere in the world. But, what about the implications for the poorest of the poor? Nevermind the profits that medical tourism can bring to a joint-accredited international hospital in Thailand. Another question we have to ask is, are these hospitals still serving their own people? Are these medical tourist programs simply bringing in profits for shareholders, or are they subsidizing community benefit programs for the local people, who most need services?

Overall medical tourism appears to be a good thing. But it still has a ways to go. First the US needs to start realizing that hospitals are going global - let's go with the flow and stop resisting. Second, and maybe more importantly, let's not forget about those who most need services. It would certainly be a shame if the American middle-class medical refugees brings about a new group of medical refugees - those in the very country that houses the hospitals.

-Derrick Pfeffer

Sunday, September 14, 2008

“FRONTLINE: Sick Around the World”

Health care is one of the big issues in the US presidential election, and there's no shortage of differences in opinion when it comes to the question of how to improve the domestic health care system. It's true that the US health system is one-of-a-kind, but the issues that voters and politicians are grappling with – lowering costs, improving quality, insuring equal access – aren't unique to the US. By understanding the solutions developed by other systems, we might be able to find better ones for our own.

A few months ago PBS aired a documentary called, “FRONTLINE: Sick Around the World.” It examines the health systems in 5 developed countries: the UK, Japan, Switzerland, Germany, and Taiwan. All of these countries spend less per capita on health care, and still score better in terms of life expectancy and infant mortality.

graph graph

At one end of the spectrum is the UK's NHS, which is a classic example of the kind of “socialized medicine” that would be politically unfeasible in the US. The other 4 countries' health systems rely, in varying degrees, on private providers and insurers working in conjunction with a series of government mandates and regulations. Each offers a slightly different set of solutions to problems that every country's health care system has to deal with.

Here's the link to watch the documentary and access other related resources and materials (including the above graphs.

-Andy Pritchard

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"Making Capitalism More Creative"

A couple weeks ago an article appeared in Time Magazine by Bill Gates. With an endowment of $38.7 billion, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has a lot of money to work with. In this article Gates discusses the role of his Foundation, as well as leaders of NGOs, businesses, and governments, in solving global health problems. He writes,

"As a businessman, I've seen that companies can tap new markets right now, even if conditions aren't ideal. And as a philanthropist, I've found that our caring for others compels us to help people right now. The longer we wait, the more people suffer needlessly."
Read the whole article here, or watch the video here.

-Andy Pritchard

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

This is the blog

Welcome to the SEGH blog! This is a forum for discussing issues in Global Health. Anyone can comment, so please feel free to contribute to the discussion.