UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

By: Maria Wilson
Global Health Office Outreach Assistant
Violence Against Women Nov 25

November 25th is the United Nations (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. As part of the 2015 campaign, the UN has declared 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence to raise public awareness and mobilize people worldwide to bring about change. This is complimented by the “Orange the World” initiative, where people are encouraged to wear and display the colour orange to symbolize a brighter future without violence. Orange events have been planned worldwide over the 16 days. Here in Canada, Niagara Falls will be lit up in orange as part of the initiative. Dalhousie has a number of events happening over the next 16 days, which are listed here.


Niagara Falls illuminated in orange.

Violence against women is a different type of epidemic than those we are used to talking about in global health. Forms of violence include physical, sexual and psychological. Unlike illness, violence in society is a choice. As such, society can choose to prevent and stop violence against its all of its members. Violence against women is a complex societal problem, with no single reason to explain why it occurs. The 2015 theme is prevention, which requires engaging many sectors, actors and stakeholders according to the UN (1).

Violence against women: the statistics

According to the UN, 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly perpetrated by an intimate partner (2). Furthermore, in 2012, 1 in 2 women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family. This is contrasted by the fact that only 1 in 20 men killed worldwide were killed in such circumstances (2).

The incidence of violence against women can vary by sexual orientation, disability status, ethnicity and contextual factors (such as conflict and post-conflict situations). For example, in 2014 in the European Union, 23% of women of non-heterosexual orientation indicated having experienced physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of non-partner perpetrators (of any gender). This is compared to 5% of heterosexual women experiencing non-partner violence (3). Transgender women are also disproportionately affected by violence (4).

Little data on psychological violence against women is available on a global scale. These data also vary due to differing interpretations of psychological violence across countries and cultures. High prevalence rates have been observed in the 28 European Union Member States, where 43% of women say they have experienced some form of violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime (3).

Other examples of large-scale violence against women include human trafficking, where 98% of victims are women and girls, and female genital mutilation, which 133 million girls and women alive today have undergone in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is most common (2).

Although they are shocking, these statistics are most likely underestimates, as women may fear stigmatization when reporting both partner and non-partner violence. Less than 10% of women seeking help for experience of violence appealed to the police (5).

Impact of violence on women’s health

The World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council produced a 2013 report on global estimates of the effects of violence against women. This report found that 42% of women who had experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of a partner had experienced injury as a result. Women who had experienced intimate partner violence were almost twice as likely to experience depression and alcohol-use problems when compared to women who had not experienced any violence. Depression and alcohol disorders are even more prevalent in women who experience non-partner sexual violence (6). Other possible impacts on health include increased suicide risk, gynaecological problems and post-traumatic stress disorder. Women may also suffer isolation, limited ability to care for themselves and their children, inability to work, loss of wages and lack of participation in regular activities – leading to significant social and economic costs (7).

Prevention strategies: more needs to be done

In high resource countries, school-based programs to prevent partner violence have shown some effectiveness; however, these programs have not yet been assessed for use in resource-poor settings. Other primary prevention strategies include early education strategies, combining micro-finance with gender equality training, promoting communication skills within couples and communities and addressing and changing gender norms. The effectiveness of these programs also must be evaluated (7).

Laws and policies must be in place to protect and support women worldwide. So far, only two thirds of all countries have outlawed domestic violence. Legislation and policies must address discrimination against women, promote gender equality, support women and facilitate more peaceful cultural norms. The harsh reality is that gender-based violence is an on-going global problem, and that more needs to be done to ensure that this global epidemic is eradicated.

For more reading on how to put an end to violence against women, the IDRC has published an article (link below) compiling views of staff and researchers entitled “Ending violence against women” that I would recommend (8).

UPDATE: See http://www.cbc.ca/missingandmurdered/ for information on missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. A 2015 UN report found that young aboriginal women are 5 times more likely to die under violent circumstances, and that rates of violence are 3.5 times higher than among non-aboriginal women (9).


[1] United Nations Women. Prevent violence against women. 2015. Available from: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/end-violence-against-women.

[2] United Nations Women. Infographic: Violence against women. 2015. Available from: http://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/multimedia/2015/11/infographic-violence-against-women

[3] European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. Violence against women: an EU-wide survey – Main results. 2014. Available from: http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra-2014-vaw-survey-main-results-apr14_en.pdf.

[4] Office for Victims of Crime. Responding to transgender victims of sexual assault. 2014. Available from: http://www.ovc.gov/pubs/forge/sexual_numbers.html.

[5] United Nations Women. Facts and figures: Ending violence against women. 2015. Available from: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures.

[6] World Health Organization. Global and regional estimates of violence against women: prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence. 2013. Available from: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/85239/1/9789241564625_eng.pdf.

[7] World Health Organization. Violence against women: Intimate partner and sexual violence against women. 2014. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/.

[8] International Development Research Centre. Ending violence against women. 2014. Available from: http://www.idrc.ca/EN/Resources/Publications/Pages/ArticleDetails.aspx?PublicationID=1133.

[9] CBC News. Missing and murdered: Unsolved cases of indigenous women and girls. 2015. Available from: http://www.cbc.ca/missingandmurdered.

Photo Bibliography:





International Development Cooperation in Global Health – Global Health Rounds

By: Maria Wilson
Global Health Office Outreach Assistant

November Global Health Rounds attendees.

The latest session of Global Health Rounds took place on November 18th, 2015. Global Health Round is a free public lecture series, focused on highlighting and discussing the global health activities at Dalhousie, as well as contemporary global health challenges, with leaders in the field. These sessions are offered monthly and anyone is welcome (and encouraged) to attend. Speaker and location details will be posted on the Global Health Office Website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The November session was titled: “Global Health from an International Development Cooperation Perspective: A North-South Approach.” The facilitator was Manfred Egbe, a visiting PhD student-researcher from Universitat Rovira I Virgili in Tarragona, Spain. Led by Manfred, attendees (pictured above) learned about upstream approaches to improving health in rural areas of Mali.

This project is taking place in several communities in rural areas of the Koulikoro region, such as Diedougou, Kolonia and Tyékouméla. The Koulikoro region is pictured below on the map of Mali in seafoam green. Some of the many partners involved in this project include OSALDE (Association for the Right of Health) a Spanish NGO, ASACO (Community Healthcare Association), CSCOM (Community Healthcare Centre), community members and other NGOs in the region.

A map of Mali for all the geography buffs, with the Koulikoro region pictured in green.

A map of Mali for all the geography buffs, with the Koulikoro region pictured in green.

Manfred’s role within the project has been as a project evaluator and medical anthropologist. His ethnographic portion of the study involved identifying problems and challenges in the community related to health by consulting health directors and community members. As part of this research, he conducted a range of in depth individual and group interviews using both quantitative and qualitative methods, reviewed OSALDE documents and examined WHO data. Through these methods, Manfred was able to identify a tree of problems that needed to be addressed in Mali.

The central problem was identified as high infant and adult morbidity and mortality. To gain a more in depth look, the project next asked – what are the causes of mortality and morbidity? The top three causes of death were identified as malaria, lower respiratory infections and diarrheal diseases. This is accompanied by high costs of medicine, and a shortage of medicine for treating these diseases.

Instead of stopping there, they next asked – what social, cultural and environmental conditions are leading to a high burden of disease and death? These are referred to as the upstream causes of disease. This term comes from a metaphor used in the public health approach to disease prevention. The metaphor describes a dangerous river that runs through a community. Several people have been seen floating down the river, struggling and drowning. Rescue workers try to save those in danger; however, no matter how hard they work, they do not have the resources to save all victims. A straightforward, “downstream” solution to the problem may be to hire more staff, to try to save the people who have fallen into the river. However, traveling upstream to determine why people are falling into the river in the first place may be more effective. Perhaps they need to cross the river to access a food supply, but there is no safe crossing point and they are being swept away in the process. An “upstream” approach would be to build a stable, sustainable bridge, allowing people to cross the river and preventing them from falling in the first place.

Several factors were identified as upstream causes of morbidity and mortality. Environmental factors play a role in the burden of disease in Mali, where there are essentially two seasons: wet and dry. During the wet season, there is extensive flooding, leading to breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Furthermore, extremely wet conditions favor the transmission of waterborne diseases. This is paired with poor access to health care and health services in rural areas. Through the interview process, the community identified their upstream issues as contaminated wells, droughts during dry season, women being undervalued, difficulties accessing education (particularly for women) and poor sanitation in health facilities and the community.

To address the upstream issues, OSALDE has worked with community partners to support training of nurses, improving access to clean drinking water, building capacity by increasing literacy and working to improve the status of women through education.

The project also aimed to improve access to healthcare services (including the elimination of financial barriers) and improve healthcare system quality. In the Diedougou commune this involved offering a minimum healthcare service package including clinical activities, preventive activities, obstetric activities, medico-technical activities, pharmaceutical activities and management activities. They have also improved the healthcare centre, which now has a maternity ward, surgical unit and a general practitioner’s office.

The take home message from Manfred’s presentation: there are many determinants of health. These include, but are not limited to social, economic, genetics, political, and cultural factors. Straightforward approaches such as treating disease to decrease mortality are important when undertaking projects to improve health. However, most projects undertaken in resource poor countries have a fixed term (i.e. two years, five years, etc.). If we do not take the time to address sustainable solutions to health problems, and work with community partners, improvements in health status will not last.

I will leave you with a quote I really enjoyed from Manfred’s presentation: “the platform of global health accommodates people from different disciplines.” Many different minds with many different approaches can and should come together in global health to address issues that affect us all, and arrive at a sustainable solution.

Thank you to Manfred for sharing your experiences at this month’s Global Health Rounds. There will be no Global Health Rounds in December so as to not conflict with holiday plans and exams. We look forward to seeing you in January!



World Antibiotic Awareness Week – what are the reasons for and implications of antibiotic resistance? Part 2

By: Maria Wilson
Global Health Office Outreach Assistant
World Antibiotic Awareness week
This week, the Global Health Office blog is going to get real scientific. So scientific, in fact, that I feel like I’m writing a paper for class (there are even references). It’s also approximately ¼ the length of the average chapter in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (I find a way to connect Harry Potter to most things in my life) (1). Due to the length, I have decided to post this information in two installments, here is part 2. Don’t let any of that deter you from continuing to read, because the subject matter covered in this post is very important!

Superbug – the latest hero from Krypton?

A term that has been used recently in the media is “superbug” – but what does it mean? Superbugs are bacteria that have become resistant to several antibiotics used in their treatment (11). A prime example of a superbug is Staphylococcus aureus, which has shown resistance to a number of antibiotics including rifampin, ciprofloxacin, tetracycline and β-lactams (11). You may have heard of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA. This strain of bacteria is most often associated with hospital-acquired infections. The incidence of MRSA in Canadian hospitals alone increased 17-fold between 1995 and 2006 (12). Infection control practices can help reduce the spread of MRSA; however, treatment upon infection can be difficult.

What are the impacts of antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria can lead to longer hospitalizations, longer treatment regimens and increased side-effects from the use of multiple and more powerful medications. This places an enormous burden on healthcare systems, using significant human and economic resources (13). The direct economic costs in Canada are estimated at $1 billion annually (12). Antibiotic resistant bacteria are responsible for approximately 25,000 deaths in Europe, 23,000 in the USA, and 8,500-12,000 in Canada annually (12,14). Estimates are less readily available for low-middle income countries, but Laximnarayan et al. assume that antibiotic resistance may have an even greater burden in these areas due to a lack of antibiotic regulation and increased burden of infectious disease (14).

What can I do?

So, what can you, as a member of the general public, do to help?

First of all, and you’ve been told this since you were in kindergarten, WASH YOUR HANDS. Hand-washing prevents infections from spreading in the first place, which in turn should decrease the amount of antibiotics that need to be prescribed. Never share antibiotics with others, or use left-over antibiotics. Left-over or shared antibiotics may not be as effective against the particular bacterial infection your body is trying to fend off. Take your full prescription in order to avoid having to repeat treatment (15). These all seem like simple things, but they really can make a difference!

Hope you enjoyed that essay of a blog post. As always, check out our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Website for information on what we here at the Global Health Office do, and all of our exciting upcoming events!



(1)  Better Novel Project. Playing the Numbers: Basic Word Counts. 2013. Available from: http://www.betternovelproject.com/blog/word-counts/.

(2)  World Health Organization. World Antibiotic Awareness Week. 2015. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/2015/world-antibiotic-awareness-week/event/en/.

(3)  World Health Organization. Quiz: How much do you know about antibiotic resistance? 2015. Available from: http://who.int/mediacentre/events/2015/world-antibiotic-awareness-week/quiz/en/.

(4)  McDonell Norms Group. Antibiotic overuse: the influence of social norms. J Am Coll Surg 2008;207(2):265-275.

(5)  Gandra S, Barter DM, Laxminarayan R. Economic burden of antibiotic resistance: how much do we really know? Clin Microbiol Infec 2014;20(1):973-980.

(6)  Scott G. Antibiotic resistance. Medicine 2009;37(10):551-556.

(7)  World Health Organization. Antibiotic Resistance: Multi-Country Public Awareness Survey. 2015. Available from: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/194460/1/9789241509817_eng.pdf?ua=1

(8)  MeMed. The Resistant Bacteria Problem. 2015. Available from: http://www.me-med.com/html5/?_id=11489&did=2466&g=11051&title=the%20resistant%20bacteria%20problem.

(9)  Marshall BM, Levy SB. Food animals and antimicrobials: impacts on human health. Clin Microbiol Rev 2011;24(4):718-733.

(10)               Knobler SL, Lemon SM, Najafi M, Burroughs T. The Resistance Phenomenon in Microbes and Infectious Disease Vectors: Implications for Human Health and Strategies for Contrainment – Workshop Summary. The National Academic Press. 2003.

(11)               Canadian Antimicrobial Resistance Alliance. Comprehensive Overview of Antibiotic Resistance in Canada. 2007. Available from: http://www.can-r.com/mediaResources/ComprehensiveOverview.pdf.

(12)               Canadian Union of Public Employees. Healthcare Associated Infections: A Backgrounder. 2009. Available from: http://cupe.ca/sites/cupe/files/healthcare-associated-infections-cupe-backgrounder.pdf.

(13)               Health Canada. Impacts of Antibiotic Resistance. 2014. Available from: http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/drugs-products-medicaments-produits/buying-using-achat-utilisation/antibiotic-resistance-antibiotique/impacts-repercussions-eng.php.

(14)               Laxminarayan R, Duse A, Wattal C, Zaidi AKM, Wertheim HFL, Sumpradt N, Vlieghe E, et al. Antibiotic resistance – the need for global solutions. Lancet Infect Dis 2013;13(12):1057-1098.

(15)               World Health Organization. Antibiotic Resistance: Fact Sheet. 2015. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/antibiotic-resistance/en/.



World Antibiotic Awareness Week – what are the reasons for and implications of antibiotic resistance? Part 1

By: Maria Wilson
Global Health Office Outreach Assistant
World Antibiotic Awareness week
This week, the Global Health Office blog is going to get real scientific. So scientific, in fact, that I feel like I’m writing a paper for class (there are even references). It’s also approximately ¼ the length of the average chapter in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (I find a way to connect Harry Potter to most things in my life) (1). Due to the length, I have decided to post this information in two installments, here is part 1. Don’t let any of that deter you from continuing to read, because the subject matter covered in this post is very important!

WHO Antibiotic Awareness Week

Monday November 16th marked the first day of the very first WHO Antibiotic Awareness week, which continues until November 22nd. This is part of a global action plan to address the growing problem of antibiotic resistance devised at the World Health Assembly in May 2015 through education, communication and training (2). Want to test your knowledge before reading the rest of this post? WHO has put together a quick, 6-question online quiz that touches on the basics of antibiotic resistance, which you can find here (3).

How did you do?

If you got less than 6/6, good effort! But, you should keep reading because there is some useful information contained in this post that will help you get a perfect score in future. If you got 6/6 – congratulations! However, you should also keep reading because there is plenty of information not covered in the quiz that we have included here (also because it took me most of the work day to write this).

What are antibiotics, and how does antibiotic resistance occur and spread?

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections (i.e. urinary tract infections, pneumonia, etc.). They are essentially useless against viral infections (i.e. influenza) or fungal infections (i.e. ringworm). It is important to understand that the bacteria, not humans or animals, become resistant to antibiotics (4). Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria evolve, adapt and become resistant to the effects of antibiotics used to treat the infections they cause. This can happen through (a) genetic mutation or (b) acquiring resistance from another bacterium. Genetic mutation is a natural, spontaneous process (occurring at a rate of 10-6 to 10-9, depending on the bacteria); however, misuse and overuse of antibiotics in humans and livestock is only accelerating its course (5,6).

For example, a survey conducted by WHO found that of 9,772 respondents from 12 countries, 32% thought they should stop taking antibiotics once they felt better, even if they had not yet completed the full course of treatment (7). Shortening the recommended treatment regimen may not kill all of the infection-causing bacteria, which can lead to the need to re-initiate treatment later. Overusing antibiotics kills susceptible bacteria, but selectively allows more resilient, antibiotic-resistant bacteria to survive and multiply in an environment with less competition. This process is called selective pressure, and is depicted in the infographic below (8).

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can go on to spread from person to person through direct contact, or contact with a surface that has touched a person with an antibiotic-resistant infection. Furthermore, resistant bacteria can be spread from livestock, food or water to humans, due to the extensive use of antibiotics in the agricultural industry. Low-dose application of antibiotics in a large number of animals augments the “selection density” of the antibiotic (9). This means that even though resistance occurs naturally at a certain rate, using more and more antibiotics can shorten the amount of overall time it takes for drug resistant bacteria to appear. This is very similar to antibiotic overuse in humans, except for the fact that in livestock, antibiotics are not always used therapeutically to treat disease. Antibiotics are also used for a wide variety of nontherapeutic purposes including growth promotion, contributing significantly to resistance (9).

A number of other factors are contributing to the growing antibiotic resistance, including: overprescription, access to antibiotics without a prescription and poor hygiene and infection control practices (10). Antibiotic resistance represents one of the largest threats to global health today, as it can affect anyone, of any age, in any country (7). The lack of effective new antibiotics being developed also worsens the problem, as we are quickly running out of alternative treatment courses for a number of drug-resistant bacteria (10).

Community interventions: what is mHealth, and how can it help to improve maternal and newborn child health in developing countries?

By: Maria Wilson
Global Health Office Outreach Assistant
From November 5-7, 2015 Montreal hosted the Canadian Conference on Global Health.  A delegation from Dalhousie participated in the many opportunities, and we will be publishing a series of blog posts from the students who attended.



Before I begin this blog post, I must disclose something to everyone reading – until November 5th 2015, I had never heard of the term “mHealth.” In fact, if you go look at my Twitter feed from earlier this week (shameless plug @_marianicole), I improperly stylized it as “MHealth.” Somebody had already re-tweeted my tweet (thanks @QueensGlobalHealth) by the time I recognized my error, so I didn’t want to delete and correct it. Fun fact: you cannot edit a tweet.

Sure, I had (briefly) heard of using mobile technology to address global health issues in one of my classes; however, mHealth as a concept is new to me. But hey, that’s what conferences are for: learning new things and gaining new perspectives. On the off chance that you, the reader of this post (if there are any of you out there), also have no idea what mHealth is, let me attempt to enlighten you! Because hey, conferences are also for sharing ideas and information (essentially, conferences are full of benefits).

Last Thursday at the Canadian Conference on Global Health (CCGH), there was a group of oral presentations on mHealth interventions geared toward improving maternal and newborn child health (MNCH) in developing countries. For this post, I’ve tried my best to blend information from this session, along with background information from a brief literature search on the topic of mHealth to pass along one of the many useful things I learned today, to all of you (hi mom, thanks for reading).

The first question that I know is burning in your mind: WHAT DOES THE M STAND FOR?!?! I may have spoiled that earlier in this post (sorry), when I talked about mobile technology to address global health issues, because the “m” is for “mobile.” The large photo of various mobile devices at the start of this post also probably gave that away (again, sorry).

mHealth is an emerging field of global health in which mobile and wireless devices are used to generate, aggregate and disseminate health information. Around the world, mobile networks are keeping people connected daily, even in the most rural of areas. mHealth is particularly important in the context of developing countries, where cost-effective solutions are necessary to improve healthcare systems and delivery.

One of the presentations, given by Kristy Hackett, at the CCGH outlined community health workers’ (CHWs) motivation during an mHealth intervention trial to improve MNCH in Singida, Tanzania. CHWs, who have enormous potential to improve MNCH in hard-to-reach communities, were provided with either a smartphone or paper-based protocols to use in household visits. The smartphone used an application that would guide and support CHWs throughout each visit with prompting questions, tools to help calculate important indicators such as gestational age, and help them decide if a clinical referral was necessary. Findings from qualitative interviews indicated that mobile phones initially incentivized and simplified the CHWs’ work, but difficulties arose with charging and airtime. The study findings highlight the need to continue to refine and improve mHealth approaches in order to move toward more efficient health delivery and better health outcomes.

Some of the many other applications of mHealth include reminding patients to take medications through notification systems and conducting disease surveillance. The 2015 mHealth Summit is currently underway in Washington DC (November 8-11). You can check out their website here: http://www.mhealthsummit.org/.

Look for more blog posts from Dalhousie delegates at the 2015 CCGH over the next few weeks. As always, for more information on the Global Health Office you can check our Twitter, Facebook and Website. We have also recently started an Instagram account, and I am going to shamelessly and directly ask (beg) you to follow us because (a) we have been and will be posting some really awesome pictures and (b) we currently only have 13 followers, which is an increase of 225% since Thursday when we only had 4. Happy Tuesday everyone!


Dalhousie delegates taking social media by storm at the 2015 Canadian Conference on Global Health

By: Maria Wilson
Global Health Office Outreach Assistant
From November 5-7, 2015 Montreal hosted the Canadian Conference on Global Health.  A delegation from Dalhousie participated in the many opportunities, and we will be publishing a series of blog posts from the students who attended.

Missed us on social media this weekend? No problem! You can check us out on Twitter, Facebook and (NEW(ish)!!!!) Instagram. Here are a couple of highlights from the Dalhousie delegates at the 2015 CCGH.






tweet4  tweet6

Connections Shape Global Health Success

By: Kyle Warkentin, BScN 3rd Year


From November 5-7, 2015 Montreal hosted the Canadian Conference on Global Health.  A delegation from Dalhousie participated in the many opportunities and we will be publishing a series of blog posts from the students who attended.  Kyle Warkentin is a Dalhousie Nursing student and a member of The Dalhousie School of Nursing Global Health Committee (DSON GHC).

Capacity Building for Global Health: Research and Practice was this year’s 22nd annual Canadian Conference on Global Health with four plenary themes including: human resource strengthening; building global health research capacity; addressing the needs and gaps in health systems through the example of Ebola; and exploring the future of global health.

The 22nd Canadian Conference on Global Health was an experience that enabled students, practitioners, researchers, and early participants into the field the opportunity to collaborate, grow, and ask questions. The conference was designed in such a way that enabled persons from all corners of the career dimension to feel included in all aspects of the conference’s main theme.

Overall the conference gave a refreshing international approach to global health, which is constantly related to not having a top down approach but work in the communities, work with the local NGO’s, and work with governments to truly make change in that country. The career of global health is local and international. Sometimes, people have global health careers and never leave their country. Damaging approaches to global health is the touristic concept of flying in, helping for 3 weeks and flying out, that just does not work.

With the relevance and proximity to the Ebola scare that shook the entire world, the way the researchers and leaders laid out their presentations revolving this issue was both interesting and informative in an immediate type of fashion. The effects of mass hysteria from the media, the importance of learning lessons from places like Haiti after the earthquake were also addressed broadly throughout the conferences many plenary and concurrent sessions.

The speakers were rich in knowledge and included big names such as the Director of International Emergency and Recovery Ops, Hossam Elsharkawi, Canadian Red Cross and Steve Cornish, Canadian Executive Director of Doctors Without Borders. The conference also included international speakers from places that are actively involved in global health research such as Mariana da Rosa Martins from Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul who spoke regarding issues of Global Health Governance.

There was indeed, something for everyone. Whether you were a young new grad eager to engage in new opportunities with potential employers/internships or learn about mistakes/ideas from current leaders embarking on the journey of a global health career, the sessions were there. There was opportunity to mingle, connect, and make lifelong friends. It is really about the connections that you make that shape your career.

Dalhousie delegation at the 2015 Canadian Conference on Global Health

Dalhousie delegation at the 2015 Canadian Conference on Global Health

What in the world is wrong with global health? – Global Health Rounds

By: Maria Wilson
Global Health Office Outreach Assistant

The Global Health Office is pleased to announce the return of Global Health Rounds for the 2015-2016 academic year! Global Health Rounds is a free public lecture series, focused on highlighting and discussing the global health activities at Dalhousie, as well as contemporary global health challenges with leaders in the field. These sessions are offered monthly, and anyone is welcome (and encouraged) to attend. Speaker and location details will be posted on the Global Health Office website, Facebook and Twitter.

This year’s first session took place on October 21st, and was titled: “What in the world is wrong with Global Health: A discussion of ethics, policy and activism in approaching Global Health.” Along with facilitator Dr. Bob Huish (Associate Professor, Dalhousie Department of International Development Studies), attendees discussed how we can better our approach to global health.

The role of the media in global health is an important topic to consider. When you think back to the fall of 2014 in the midst of the West African Ebola outbreak, what do you remember seeing in the mainstream media? Widespread panic, fear and despair; photographs of the sick and the dead. One headline on CNN characterized the outbreak as “Ebola: The ISIS of Biological Agents.” The Ebola outbreak was obviously critical, but the representation in the majority of the North American media was very problematic. This was paired with a lack of mobilizing human resources in the early stages of the outbreak, despite the human resources shortage being identified by WHO as a major barrier to control. In all of this, Cuba emerged as a champion for change, sending more than 460 doctors and nurse to West Africa as of November 2014. In addition to their significant human resources role, Cuban health professionals ensured that the photographs they took sent a positive message of hope, progress, partnerships and change, contrary to most of the other photographs shown in the North American media during the worst of the outbreak. The photograph featured below shows a members of the Cuban team making a peace sign, and many of the other photos show team members giving thumbs-up. Furthermore, their names are written on the protective equipment. This humanizes the team members and acts as a powerful tool to put the Ebola outbreak in perspective:  rather than showing anonymous humans who are sick, dying or struggling, we see named team members on the front line conveying positive emotions. Thank you to Dr. Huish for sharing some of the photographs from his presentation!

Cuba Ebola photo 

After reflecting upon the characterization of global health in the media, we also took the time to discuss and how we are conceptualizing global health as a whole, and how we may need to re-evaluate our framework. Here are a few of the key topics and messages we discussed in working together towards better health for all:

  1. Establishing equitable partnerships.

As noted in the event description, many diseases favour the poor, but the ability to treat and to prevent illness tends to favour the affluent. In order to succeed in our global health endeavours, equitable partnerships must be forged.

  1. Our current tendency to think of global health as individual experiences, rather than an overarching discipline needs to change.

In academia, training experiences in global health offer many potential benefits to the individual, as well as the institution. While these are important to acknowledge, they should not be the principal driver of global health initiatives. We need to re-focus on global health as a discipline that works toward achieving equity in health for all.

  1. Rethinking our approach to maintaining and achieving health rather than treating illness.

We often see global health responses as reactionary. Take the Ebola outbreak as an example, there was a rapid outpouring of funding from many of the world’s most wealthy countries as an immediate reaction to this crisis. However, what if we re-focused our efforts on addressing long-term health needs, the social determinants of health (particularly poverty) and advocacy? Shifting our focus in global health “upstream” to structural and developmental initiatives may create a more sustainable alternative. As Dr. Huish noted, “health is always an outcome of development.”

We would like to thank Dr. Huish for facilitating the first Global Health Rounds of the 2015-2016 academic year, and look forward to many more discussions on global health in the year to come. We hope to see you at next month’s event:

November Global Health Rounds

Wed. Nov 18 @ 5-6pm, location TBD

Hosted by Manfred Egbe, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain

Topic: Global Health from an International Development Cooperation Perspective: A North – ‘Local South’ Approach.

Showcasing Partnerships in Global Health: Global Health Open House and Living Library

By: Maria Wilson
Global Health Office Outreach Assistant

The annual Global Health Open House took place on Saturday October 3rd in the Tupper Link. This year’s theme was  “Shaping the Future through Partnerships.” In the spirit of partnership, the Global Health Office collaborated with the Dal Med Global Health Initiative (GHI) to offer a poster session, along with a Global Health Living Library. The poster session showcased educational initiatives and research projects that members of the Dalhousie community have undertaken with a diverse group of partners. Dr. Lori Weeks from the Faculty of Nursing spoke to attendees about her experience facilitating an interprofessional gerontology course including students from Canada, the USA and Norway. Second year MSc. Community Health and Epidemiology student Courtney Heisler presented a midterm evaluation of the Integrated Approach to Addressing the Issue of Youth Depression (IACD) in Malawi. Of her participation in the poster session, Heisler said:

Presenting at the 2015 Dalhousie University Global Health Open House was a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of the work being done in adolescent mental health in Malawi by teenmentalhealth.org and Farm Radio International. The midterm evaluation of the IACD program highlights both the effectiveness of the program, and the need for continued investment in the mental health training of Malawians.

Second year MSc. Community Health & Epidemiology student Courtney Heisler with her poster at the 2015 Global Health Open House.

Stories that Bind: A Living Library of Healthcare Experiences brought in over twenty human “books” to share their unique perspectives with event attendees. Participants from a variety of backgrounds engaged in one-on-one discussions on topics including healthcare barriers faced by the visually impaired and deaf communities, the impact of experiencing and surviving racism on the health of women of African ancestry in Nova Scotia, and barriers and challenges that immigrants and refugees face when accessing healthcare. These conversations brought together individuals from across disciplines in order to gain a more robust picture of healthcare issues in our local and global communities through knowledge sharing.

Dal Med GHI hopes to make the Living Library an annual event, and is seeking feedback in order to grow and improve in the future. If you attended the Living Library event, you can help by filling out this short feedback form http://bit.ly/1K6CODn.

We would like to thank everyone who came out to both events, and we hope to see you next year! More photos from the event will be posted on the Global Health Office blog soon. If you would like more information on global health education and research opportunities, please check out the Dalhousie Global Health Office’s social media (links below) or contact us at gho@dal.ca.




Welcome: Shaping the Future Through Partnerships

By: Shawna O’Hearn, Director, Global Health Office

Welcome to a New Year!

As September arrives, the noises of campus change from construction to students talking about health equity, diversity, global health and partnerships.  The Global Health Office has grown with a new service learning program, more established initiatives for African Nova Scotians through PLANS, international elective opportunities are growing and we are always identifying opportunities to continue embracing and supporting social accountability across the health faculties.

This year, our work will fall within the theme of “Shaping the Future Through Partnerships” and you will see multiple new initiatives throughout the year.  Please join us on Saturday October 3, 2015 in the Tupper Link from 1-4 pm as we host our annual Global Health Open House which will showcase the diversity within our programs, partnerships and reach across and beyond the campuses.

Global Health Open House Oct 3, 2015

Global Health Open House Oct 3, 2015

We are thrilled to be presenting our Open House in partnership with the Dal Med Global Health Initiative (GHI) who will be facilitating the Global Health Living Library: Stories that Bind, A Living Library of Healthcare Experiences, which allows us to bring together a stronger more collaorative voice of global health at Dalhousie.

Stories that Bind, A Living Library of Healthcare Experience

Stories that Bind, A Living Library of Healthcare Experience

We look forward to working with students, faculty and staff from across the multiple campuses at Dalhousie University and continuing to collaborate with our local and global partners.

Don’t be a stranger.  Come see us in person or through our virtual presence.