University Center for Global Health hosts Global Health Week

Events were focused on human health, the global environment, and the connection between the two.

By Olivia Rosenzweig

Last week, the University’s Center for Global Health hosted Global Health Week, which featured three separate events focused on human health and the global environment.

Doctor Funmi Olopade, director of the Center for Global Health, explained the importance of the program. “My job is to get students motivated, excited to be part of a global village and want to do your best to contribute to health and well-being for people all over the world, whether it’s in our communities here or communities abroad. […] The goal for this week is to really celebrate the fact that we live in a global village, that our students are making an impact all over the world.”

The first event on Tuesday featured presentations of student projects and research in the global health field.

Doctor Sola Olopade, the clinical director of the Center for Global Health, worked closely with many of the student researchers who presented at the event. “The students have opportunity for scholarly work where we’re helping to bring good health and development to some of these people who need them,” Olopade said. Five of the student presenters were Metcalf recipients. Two did research in Nigeria, two in Cameroon, and one in Ghana.

Doctor Sola Olopade advised students who researched the impact of household air pollution on pregnant women in Nigeria and Bangladesh, which results in over 4 million deaths every year.

Not all presenters did their research abroad. Fourth-year Senxi Du spent the summer at University of California, Irvine, studying the disparities in terms of doctor-patient relationship between high- and low-acculturated Latina cancer patients. “We found that, essentially, high acculturated patients tended to react to the doctor-patient relationship in terms that align more with white woman, whereas less acculturated patients tended to a relationship that is due to different expectations for health care in Latin America,” Du said.

Doctor Brian Callendar, assistant director of Clinical and Education Programs at the Center for Global Health, worked closely with a number of student presenters and spoke of the importance of events like Global Health Week for presenting academic research.

“What you see presented here is different than an academic paper because it’s more lively and it’s an opportunity for faculty, students, trainees across the university to actually interface with the student who did the work, went abroad, and actually did the international experience that from my perspective is very important for their development as a future physician,” Callendar said.

Doctor William J. Martin II, MD, dean of Environmental Health Sciences at the Ohio State University College of Public Health, gave the keynote address for the second event, which took place on Thursday. He discussed his work to raise awareness of the dangers of household air pollution from burning biomass in low-income countries. He described this pollution as “the worst environmental cause of death in the world…[and] the number one preventable cause of pneumonia of children under the age of five.”

The final event, held on Monday, featured a lecture by Anand Grover, a former UN special rapporteur on the right to health, who spoke about access to essential medicines for vulnerable populations. In the lecture, Grover discussed the corruption of the corporate pharmaceutical industries in India and the United States. “It’s a very big problem for a lot of people to access medicines that are very expensive. And the obligations of government are to make sure that they are available and affordable,” he said.

Grover concluded by encouraging civilians to take action. “Corporates should not be the only people acting; there should be activists…to pressure the government for local regional manufacturing,” Grover said.

Doctor Funmi Olopade reiterated the relationship between the environment and global health. “Part of the reason why the environment matters, why we have to clean up is because we can’t afford to treat disease in poor people, and the health effects that we try to mitigate by taking care of the environment will help us to not have to…spend, as we do in this country, 17 percent of our GDP on taking care of health problems.”