Happy Holidays from Dal Global Health
Thank you for your support and involvement in global health in 2019.
We wish you a safe and peaceful holiday and we look forward to working with you in the new year.
Thank you for your support and involvement in global health in 2019.
We wish you a safe and peaceful holiday and we look forward to working with you in the new year.
On November 13th and 14th, 2019 Promoting Leadership in Health for African Nova Scotians (PLANS) hosted a booth at the Teens Now Talk (TNT) Passport 2 Youth Success XPO. Our booth was interactive and showcased information about PLANS and the many supports we offer students: summer camps, scholarship and bursaries opportunities, student groups and the various campus supports provided to students at Dalhousie University. Students had fun with our “Wheel of Fun”, where students had a chance to win a prize and had chance to win an awesome door prize.
This XPO showcased many youth related services, ranging from post-secondary education, employment, trades technology to health and wellness. Students were issued a TNT passport booklet when they arrived that allowed them to collect stamps for each booth they visited. Once they collected 40 stamps, students returned their passport to the registration desk to be entered in a draw to win one of the many grand prizes. This fun filled event also included guest performers and gave youth an opportunity to showcase local talent during the event. It was wonderful interacting with all the students who came to the XPO and we look forward to meeting students again at one of our summer camps or as a student at Dalhousie University.
For more information:
…we enjoy sharing our joy.
For 2019 we present “12 Days of Giving”
The holidays can be a time for thanks and a chance to give back to our communities to support families and individuals who struggle at this time of year. We have created a fun list of giving ideas and will be collecting items in our office (C-241, CRC, 5849 University Ave.) until December 24.
If our office isn’t convenient we also encourage everyone to give however they can. Perhaps you pass by an organization on your way to and from work, or your office would like to manage their own collection, maybe your family is doing something at home. However it happens the important thing is that it does. So let’s get out there and give.
Please enjoy a safe and peaceful holiday and all the best in the coming New Year!
Heading into December, we’ve all got one thing on our mind – the holidays! Be it religious or just a break from work or studies, the holiday season is one to get excited for. Here at the Dalhousie Global Health Office we want to encourage everyone to acknowledge and understand some of the major holidays happening this December so you can help your community, friends and family celebrate – even if it’s not a holiday you celebrate. Here are some upcoming major holidays to look out for:
December 8 – Bodhi Day (Buddhist)
Bodhi Day is the Buddhist celebration of the Buddha’s enlightenment. For Buddhists all over the world Bodhi Day is a day to remember Siddhartha and meditate following his example. Some decorate their houses with pictures or statues of the Buddha under a fig tree to remember the day of his awakening. Often, colourful decorations are also put up to represent that enlightenment has many ways to be obtained. Buddhists also light candles (or light substitutes) and keep them lit for the next 30 days to symbolize enlightenment. They may also have a ficus tree decorated with lights and stringed beads to represent that everything is united and connected. There are also usually three hanging ornaments to represent the Three Jewels of Buddhism: Buddha, Dharma and Shanga. It is traditional to eat one meal of rice and milk – the meal that Buddha ate after his awakening. The most common activity for Buddhists is to gather and stay in prayer during the night and reflect on the cycle of rebirth, the Eightfold path and the four Noble Truths.
Dec 21/22 – Winter Solstice (non-denominational)
Winter Solstice occurs when the sun is farthest south in the sky, meaning it is the day with the least light. In the Northern Hemisphere, this happens on Dec 21.
Dec 22 – Yule (Pagan)
Various Pagan religions have very different origins and thus how they celebrate Yule can be quite diverse despite the shared name. Yule is often celebrated with gatherings involving a meal and gift giving. Some forms of Paganism recognize Yule as lasting 12 days, beginning on Winter Solstice and ending on Jan 2nd. In most forms of Wicca, this holiday is celebrated at the beginning of the winter solstice as the rebirth of the great Horned Hunter God, who is viewed as the newborn solstice sun. The method of gathering for this sabbat will vary greatly by practitioner with some celebrating privately, with covens, or with family and friends. If you wish to celebrate this holiday with a Pagan friend or family member, ask them about their traditions and if there are ways to be involved!
Dec 22- Dec 30 – Hanukkah (Chanukkah)
Hanukkah is the Jewish festival of dedication, often referred to as the festival of lights. It is 8 days long, starting on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. Although it is one of the most famous Jewish religious festivals, it is often misunderstood to be “Jewish Christmas”. In reality, Hanukkah is a holiday celebrating the victory of the revolution over the suppression of the Jewish religion. The celebration of the festival involves lighting candles in a menorah. The menorah contains 8 candles plus one used to light the others. The lighting of the candles is done to celebrate a miracle which occurred during the first Hanukkah after rededication. A candle is lit one per day, right to left, as Hebrew is read. People recite the holy music and play games to celebrate the day of rededication of the temple. Modern day celebrations often include gift giving, but this is not traditional.
Dec 25 – Christmas (Christian)
Christmas is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in Canada. Although it is based in Christianity, it is often celebrated by those with no religious affiliation and without much of the cultural and religious aspects. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The day marks the beginning of the Christmastide, which lasts up to 12 days, ending on January 5. Christmas is predominately celebrated by decorating of trees, both inside and out, with festive lights and ornaments. Other Christmas decorations include mistletoe and holly. Those who celebrate Christmas often give gifts, sometimes include gifts said to brought by Santa Claus, who lives in the North Pole. Christmas celebrations often include church services on Christmas eve and Christmas day, as well as on the 12th night. The holiday is meant to be one of joy, happiness, kindness and giving.
Dec 26 – Jan 1 – Kwanzaa (non-denominational)
Kwanzaa is an African-Canadian and African-American holiday that aims to celebrate peoples’ African roots. Kwanzaa is celebrated from the day after Christmas until the new year, primarily in North America. The celebrations center on various traditions unique to this festival but the most important is the lighting of candles on a traditional candle holder called the Kinara. Other activities include pouring a drink to honor God (known as “libations”), having a large feast and exchanging gifts. It was first started with the purpose of bringing the African-American community together and giving them an opportunity to celebrate their lineage. Children are generally included in the festivities as it teaches them about their lineage and gives respect to the ancestry. Houses may be decorated with African cloth and art, and women generally wear kaftans. There is frequently drumming, singing, and reading a pledge to Africa and the principles of Africa.
Whatever the holidays mean to you we wish you all a safe and peaceful time and look forward to the new year!
Samiah Alam, a student in Dalhousie’s Masters of Community Health and Epidemiology program, was the second student to be awarded one of the Queen Elizabeth Scholarships (QES) to study in Tanzania in the summer of 2019. We sat down with Samiah to hear about her goals, work, and experiences during her time in there.
Samiah entered the program with a strong desire to learn about global health in general, partially because her degree in epidemiology can be quite strongly associated with global health issues. Additionally, as a volunteer doula here in Halifax, Samiah had developed a particular interest in maternal and newborn health that she hoped to explore this during her time in Dar es Salaam. To this end, Samiah was placed at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, a university associated with the national hospital for Tanzania, doing maternal health research.
The primary objective of Samiah’s practicum was to design and write a proposal to understand the community and the midwives’ perception of humanizing birth care. When she arrived, Samiah worked in the nursing department of the hospital and was originally intending to take on a purely qualitative study. However, because she felt she didn’t have all the background skills necessary to jump directly into a purely qualitative role, she decided work on a systematic review and as well as a mixed methods approach proposal on this topic while in Tanzania. She felt maintaining a qualitative thread throughout the work was important, as it allowed a connection with the people rather than just scientific fact, and she found it increased personal significance of project for her. Although her role changed from her initial goal once she arrived in Tanzania, she still feels she got a lot out of the experience, and that the experts at the university were able to offer considerable knowledge in her area of interest.
For Samiah, a huge part of what she enjoyed about her placement was the experience of Tanzanian culture. She found it very different from our own Canadian lifestyle, noting that it was very community oriented. Everyone was very open, accepting and friendly, even to the point where simply walking down the street could involve several greetings and friendly interactions with other members of the community.
“Everyone would always smile say hi in a very different way than we say ‘Hi, how are you?’ here. They were all involved with everyone in the community’s lives.” Samiah says.
Feeling this sense of being part of a larger community was important to Samiah and was a highly valued part of her experience.
When asked about a particular time during her trip that stood out for her, Samiah again brought up the experience of different cultures, this time surrounding Ramadan and the Muslim Eid holidays, one of which she spent in Dar es Salaam and the other in Zanzibar. Being in Tanzania during Ramadan, Samiah was able to go to nightly prayer with locals in the area and was invited to many of their homes. She went to visit three families, even spent the night with one. Moreover, the Eid was an official two-day holiday in Tanzania, leading to a much bigger and joyous occasion. However, Samiah notes that Zanzibar really came to life during the Eid. Although she didn’t get to visit any individuals, it was fun to be in a large city where the whole place was celebrating the holiday, as opposed to most places in Canada where many don’t even take the day off work. She talks fondly of seeing kids lined up at shops waiting to get treats during the festivities, and shopkeepers who knew the neighbourhood children coming to pass them out. A familiar, but unique experience of the holiday.
Overall, Samiah thoroughly enjoyed her summer spent in Tanzania, but suggests anyone going to work in the University environment make sure to have some foundation in the area or methodology they wish to work in because even having just the basics down already means you are able to absorb so much more from the experts at the university, instead of having to spend your time on things you could learn at home. “You would gain more out of the experience and make it more productive for both parties.”, she says. However, she believes that the placement directors are very helpful and will ensure you have an enjoyable and productive time during your stay.
For more information on the Queen Elizabeth Scholars Opportunities click here.
RECAP | Visiting Teams: Global Health Discussion Series | 5 November 2019
The evening consisted of an enjoyable, lively discussion among participants. Many participants had international or national global health experiences and/or were looking at engaging in global health initiatives in the future. Visiting anesthesiologists from Ethiopia, Dr. Ananya Abate and Dr. Mahalet Tadesse Ibssa, shared their experiences regarding visiting teams. Cardiac surgeon Dr. David Horne, who planned to join the discussion, was booked for an emergency surgery and unable to attend. However, Dr. Horne offers some insights to the discussion below.
The intention of global health work in Canada is to effectively maximize benefits of supports offered to locations or countries in need. Through relationships, experience and research collectively, we acknowledge there are significant needs, and through helping, we reciprocally deepen our individual experiences.
When providing aid to countries in need, significant complexities in co-ordinating funding and managing logistical arrangements emerge. When hosting visiting international teams, co-ordinating and preparing for a team’s arrival is also complex. During the evening discussion, we learned that visiting teams in Ethiopia have been and are imperative to support anesthesiologists in the east African country.
Giving examples, the Ethiopian doctors said they often did not know when a team would arrive or return. A visiting team can attempt to understand as much as possible from past work and then try to continue moving forward. Effective prior and post-visit communication and planning on both sides is ideal.
Discussion raised questions of how progress can be measured, particularly given that health outcomes can be difficult to quantify. Nonetheless, accountability and measured outcomes continue to be important in global health work. Progress requires knowledgeable individuals with a passion and willingness to help bring players together to create supportive relationships, leading to hope, healing, inspiration and reciprocal experiential learning exchanges.
Recommendations discussed for visiting teams from Ethiopia’s perspective:
Dr. David Horne: How to manage the logistics and funding to do work in abroad (personal and institutionally):
Logistics: Needs to be investigated and tested, or completely understood, way before the actual work starts abroad. At a minimum one key member or the team lead needs to know all the logistical steps, information, and contact details for ALL members working at site abroad at the same time. This can be a nightmare, so attention to detail as well as a documentation system goes a long way. It’s beneficial to have a single person coordinator that can do leg work and track it all for everyone continuously. My practice and preference is to do monthly conference calls / meetings with all members to go over many aspects including logistics – at least 6 months before planned travel abroad.
Funding: One can’t plan and work on funding, if you don’t know all the logistical costs, as well as costs for needed equipment etc. Know what you need then work on how to get it; both for the individual as well as a team. Then determine who can afford what so that each member and the team as a whole knows what the targets are. It is easier to ask people for money in Canada if there is a tax receipt at after a donation, so collaborating with or starting an organized charity is helpful. Otherwise it’s up to being resourceful with bake sales, t-shirt sales, silent auctions, events etc.
Anesthesiologist Dr. Patty Livingstone, Global Health Director for the Department of Anesthesia, has been pivotal in developing relationships to allow Dalhousie to be an active player to support Ethiopia. Thank you, Dr. Livingstone, for your inspiring, tireless commitment and dedication!
Keep the Conversation Going
Global Health work exists in local and international settings. There are many ways to be involved locally: attending events such as this Global Health Discussion Series assists in understanding issues as well as making connections to build relationships. Please consider attending our next Global Health Discussion Series. If you would like to volunteer to help set up the next discussion series please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Dalhousie’s Global Surgery Office please visit the department website.
Chloé Blackman, a Master’s student in Community Health and Epidemiology here at Dalhousie University, was awarded one of the Global Health Office’s Queen Elizabeth Scholarships (QES) to study in Tanzania in the summer of 2019. Her QES placement offered a hands-on experience to learn about the Tanzanian healthcare system with our partner, Pastoral Activities and Services for People with AIDS Dar es Salaam Archdiocese (PASADA). PASADA is a community-based social service agency that offers healthcare services to vulnerable and underserved populations living with HIV/AIDs.
Chloé entered the program open to new learning and cultural experiences, having high hopes of soaking up as many new skills and life lessons as she could – a goal she believes she accomplished. Although wistfully talking about wanting to return to Tanzania in the future, Chloé packed a lot into her three-month adventure.
When Chloé arrived at PASADA she rotated through several areas of the clinic– from working with vulnerable populations, to the tuberculosis clinic, and to intake and registration. Ultimately, Chloé chose to work in the laboratory. Although not everyone who goes through the program is able to find an exact match between their studies and their work assignment, Chloé was able to develop a project with an epidemiology spin. For the next several months she worked on a study doing basic evaluation on the effectiveness of enhanced adherence counselling at reducing viral load among HIV-infected patients, work she says she enjoyed completing and hopes will be meaningful for the clinic. Outside of her placement, Chloé and Samiah Alam, another student from the QES program, were also able to work on a paper related to the Global Burden of Disease, which keeps them connected to Tanzania moving forward, and will hopefully be published in the future.
Chloé speaks highly of the cultural experience she had in Tanzania, having enjoyed expeditions to other places, including Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar. One memory from her trip that really stood out for her was visiting a local charity for families with children sick from cancer. She says getting to know the families and the struggles they were enduring was an experience that will stay with her for life.
Photo: Rehema & Chloé in Sawhili Lessons
When asked what advice she would give to people thinking about attending the program, she highly recommended learning to go with the flow and to laugh at yourself early on in the process. As you’re adapting to a new culture and language, things are bound to get a bit confusing for everyone – clearly those Swahili lessons are important! Chloé also recommends exploring outside your placement, engaging with the Canadian Embassy for events and experiences, and really making sure you enjoy the time you’ve been given there to explore and get to know the local culture. Overall, Chloé says the program was a unique once in a lifetime experience that she would encourage others to take part in.
“I am beyond grateful to all the amazing staff, volunteers, and patients at PASADA. Thank you for taking the time to teach me everything – from Swahili to the work you do. This experience would not have been the same without all of you.”
Photo: Michael, Zachariah, Desdore & Chloé
For more information on global health experiences please visit the Global Health Office website.
The Global Health Office (GHO) in happy to introduce Sarah Upshaw as the new Program Manager for the Promoting Leadership in health for African Nova Scotians (PLANS) Program! Sarah brings a robust skill set to the position, having worked as a mental health nurse for many before moving on to Recreation Therapy here at Dalhousie, and finally her Master of Counseling at Acadia University. At Acadia, Sarah was part of an Africentric cohort aimed at increasing the number of African Nova Scotians in the counseling field. She went on to work in public health as a Youth Health Centre Coordinator before coming to join us here at the GHO. Having such a diverse background of both study and work, Sarah became keenly aware of the lack of representation of diversity within health professions, and could clearly see the impact on the populations that were being under served.
Sarah is passionate about the PLANS goals of helping create interest and guide youth through the process of making the transition to post-secondary education and eventually attending school in any medical field. The most common ways this is done is through youth summer camps, mentorship and support opportunities, and financial help through bursaries for entrance exams and conference attendance. Sarah has a personal interest in finding ways to better reach youth living outside HRM, especially in rural areas, to better introduce them to what the PLANS program can offer.
Sarah currently works out of the Global Health Office all week, as well as providing drop-in based mentorship out of the Black Student Advisory Center on Thursdays from 9am-noon. One of Sarah’s goals for the upcoming year is to expand this drop-in time in a virtual way, hoping to make it easier for youth and young adults to contact her from across the province.
PLANS seeks to increase representation of African Nova Scotians in the health professions through recruitment and retention, community collaborations and partnerships to improve health outcomes within the African Nova Scotian community. PLANS offers programming, resources, and attends community and school events to provide health career support and preparation. Learn more here!
Canada’s Federal Election Day is right around the corner, on Monday, Oct 21!
Not sure who to vote for? Check out our guide to the party platforms as they relate to health, education, and more below!
ENVIRONMENT & CLIMATE CHANGE
IMMIGRATION AND CULTURE
This week we would like to highlight Dal News and Obinna Esomchukwu for a fabulous review of our Global Health Panel Discussion from Sept. 25; we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Click here for the Dal News story, photos by Nick Pearce (text below)
Obinna Esomchukwu – October 10, 2019
Health researchers from Dal and beyond gathered in late September to mark Global Health Day, sharing their work on various public health initiatives and discussing the impact of those on health outcomes around the world.
The event was anchored by a panel discussion drawing lessons from Nova Scotia and West Africa on a range of issues, including shifts in global mentorship, the impacts of urbanization, and the ethics of health interventions.
Panelist Dr. Buba Manjang, deputy director of public health in The Gambia and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Waterloo, put global health issues into stark relief by describing the disparity in health outcomes between lower- and middle-income countries (LMIC) and high-income countries (HIC).
“As we all know, diseases have no boundaries, so we need to work closely together,” he said. “That is the importance of global health.”
He noted that while global life expectancy has increased, “a wide gap still exists between high-income and low- and middle-income countries” and “approximately 98 per cent of all child deaths occur in LMIC.”
To show the promise of global health efforts in tackling the problem, Dr. Manjang highlighted one of his own projects — done in collaboration with researchers at the University of Birmingham — that involved the development of a program to promote hygienic weaning and food-handling practices in 15 rural communities in The Gambia.
“Our aim for the clustered randomized trial was to investigate the effectiveness of weaning behavioural change intervention for mothers’ practices and also reduce biological contamination of weaning food and improve health outcomes,” he said.
The effect of the program was tremendous, he said. The number of diarrhea incidence in the communities that participated in the study was significantly lower than in other communities that did not receive the intervention.
Dr. Manjang was joined during the panel discussion by Dalhousie researchers Drs. Gaynor Watson-Creed, Heather Scott, and Janice Graham. Shawna O’Hearn, director of the Global Health Office at Dal, moderated the panel.
Dr. Watson-Creed, a public health physician and assistant dean with the Dalhousie Medical School, focused her remarks on the implications of urbanization on global health.
“Currently in the world, 55 per cent of our populations live in cities and that is projected to become 70 per cent by the end of the year 2050,” she said. “82 per cent of Canadians already live in cities.”
She described urbanization as a “force that has been driving human behaviour for thousands of years.” However, she stated that the exponential increase in urbanization around the world is a cause for deliberate reflection and informed public health action. “Urbanization,” she said, “is currently happening at a pace that makes me worried about the sustainability of rural populations.”
She identified several effects of urbanization on human well-being, including loneliness, loss of connection with nature, and unintended environmental changes.
“As we design cities for economic productivity,” she said, “we can almost focus on that to the exclusion of the other things that support health.”
Summarizing the research findings of Dr. Colin Ellard, a psychologist at the University of Waterloo whose research is focused on the impact of architectural designs in urban areas on human psychology and well-being, Dr. Watson-Creed stated that “human beings are directly and immediately impacted by being in poorly designed neighbourhoods.”
Dr. Scott, a clinician and the global health director in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, used her work in Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Canada as a context to discuss mentorship in global health.
She described the difference between the old approach and the current approach to global health mentorship.
“Over time, there has been a gradual shift to place more emphasis on clinical teaching rather than the provision of a service,” she said. This has led to the application and refinement of the “train-the-trainer model,” which she described as a more sustainable approach to global mentorship.
She emphasized the importance of a collaborative approach to global mentorship. “That means working hand-in-hand with clinicians and educators so that you can help them meet the needs of their clinic, health center, or hospital,” she said.
The final speaker Dr. Graham, a medical anthropologist, delivered an energetic and lyrical presentation titled, “Troubling Interventions.” She examined the consequences of unethical interventions and research practices in Canada and abroad.
“Research is not perfect,” she said, “and making sure that all clinical trials and post-market data on safety and effectiveness are sufficiently monitored is an international burden we need to consider global.”
Her presentation was a call for a genuine reflection on the ethics of local and global interventions.
Prior to the panel, attendees also had a chance to learn about some of the cutting-edge research happening across Dalhousie through a poster presentations on a range of global health issues.