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.
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…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!
It was great to sit and chat with two of our awesome Medical students here at Dalhousie University. Adrianna Broussard, a 1st year student, from Antigonish Nova Scotia and Tiffany Richards, a 4th year student, from Truro Nova Scotia. Both individuals have traveled different paths in their pursuit to medicine arriving at their destination as non-trads (non-traditional). These women share their story with us on why they chose medicine and their current experiences thus far in their journey.
For me, I have always had it in mind to pursue medicine since I was a kid, however, I sort of got away from it through my high school and undergraduate years as I explored other interests of mine. Another factor that brought me away from my initial pursuit was that I just felt intimidated by the whole thing. I just felt like I didn’t have a chance. I didn’t know anyone from the community that got into medical school and I thought it was only for rich kids. Once I finished my undergraduate degree, I worked for a couple of years and volunteered in many different inner-city initiatives. Through these experiences, I got really interested in nutrition and learning about it, and this interest brought me back to my childhood dream of medicine. I grew up in a community where there is a high prevalence of chronic illness that can be associated with nutrition, such as diabetes. What really solidified my desire to pursue medicine was my experience working as a research assistant and seeing the physicians and other medical staff at work. I explored other healthcare professions, but truly enjoyed the wide scope of practice of medicine and the more global view of the patient that physicians have.
I was always geared toward a career in health from high school, with most of my interests in medicine and physiotherapy. It wasn’t until the 3rd year of my undergraduate degree, after having the opportunity to shadow both a physiotherapist and physician, that I decided to pursue medicine. This experience opened my eyes to the wide scope of practice within medicine and the many possibilities. I applied three times before I matriculated here at Dalhousie. During my application process I had the opportunity to learn more about myself, what I was truly interested in, and to develop my interpersonal skills, which I am finding is very important on this road to medicine.
What did you expect and has anything changed?
I honestly expected to kind of be on my own, and I didn’t expect to find a tribe. I am happy to say that from the first day of classes I met 5 girls, all women of color, that have been my rock and support throughout medicine. I’ll admit, I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t going to have to do this all by myself. I expected to be more tired, and I heard the saying that medical school was like “drinking from a fire hose” (so true). There is just so much information to learn and it’s overwhelming at times. This challenged me, and it was a very humbling experience. I quickly recognized what it felt like to be in a class full of achievers, and this surely cured my perfectionism. As I mentioned before, I didn’t come from a medical family, I didn’t have any previous social networks with physicians, so this was all brand new to me, and I literally had no idea what to expect. Although I knew it would be lots of work, it was more work than expected.
Just my expectations in what a career in medicine looks like. I was idealistic when I started. I’ve learned as a physician you are also a businessperson, and you must work within this medical system that has been established. Some of the things I imagined myself doing I have to kind of shift to what I want my eventual practice to look like. Regarding medical school and the different years, I didn’t realize how little control you would have over your life. 3rd year is tough because you are in clinic and doing rotations, and you may be on call and you don’t have much control over your schedule. This was tough, and I had to learn how to be a lot more flexible.
I expected it to be a lot of work. I knew it was going to be harder because the challenge of getting in was difficult. I am thankful that some of my previous experience has helped with some current transitions in medical school, such as my patient and clinical background. So far, I have found that it has been a lot of practical learning, things like taking history, communication skills, and other skills. I expected that we’d start right into it and it would be extremely overwhelming, I was honestly expecting to have had more breakdowns from the volume of material, adjusting to the pace, and just feelings of being overwhelmed, but it has not been like that at all! They have done a great job at easing us in.
Like Tiffany, I don’t have anyone in my family who was a physician, but what I’ve found is that many are from the same background. This has helped and has created a very supportive group! We help each other out with studying, and we are constantly creating connections and growing through things.
It is still a very competitive atmosphere. I didn’t really know quite what to expect in this regard. I don’t like to consider myself quite competitive, but I know I am, and I don’t like to compare myself to others. I found, at times, it a bit hard comparing myself to others. I was told that these feelings and expectations will get trained out of me, but I initially didn’t know what people meant when they said that. I am now learning that as I am going through. There is a lot of material, but it isn’t hard, just a lot. There are also a lot of things to get involved with, and I want to try and get involved with everything like everyone else because everyone seems to be so balanced with their life, but I need to check in with myself and make sure I’m not overburdening myself and break the habit of comparing myself to others, because that will just be hard on me in the long run.
Specialties and why?
That’s tough, I’m sort of considering 2. My long-standing plan has been family medicine, because I am very interested in preventing chronic disease progression. So, preventive medicine, things like helping patients to adhere to treatments and medications, ensure patients are up to date on screening tests, counseling patients and helping to develop S.M.A.R.T. goals.
In Med3 you do placements in every specialty, thus exposing you to all sorts of disciplines of medicine. I really enjoyed my time in psychiatry. I find psychiatrists very interesting, and in this field, you have the opportunity to sit down with the patient for a longer period of time and really get to know them. I really enjoy counseling and psychiatry offers you many opportunities to do that. As well, the pace of psychiatry is great because there is time to sit and think and talk about things and really come up with the best solution.
For a while I considered Radiology. This was because of my background in Ultrasound, it was just what I knew. I do really like a lot of patient interaction and the counseling aspect of medicine. From my current experiences, I am not sure that the radiologist doesn’t get a lot of that in their day-day activities. I have also considered family medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology; however, I honestly am not quite sure yet. Luckily, our curriculum allows us to participate in different opportunities such as observerships and electives that allow us to experience many areas of medicine. I will be taking full advantage of these to find my passion!
What are your hopes as a physician? Degree and Residency
To be a very competent physician. Ultimately that is the goal, to model the behaviors of the physician that I want to be. That model physician is thorough, competent, community engaged, and to develop patient advocacy skills. Ideally, enhancing my ability in all the CanMEDS roles!
As a physician I want to be competent to minimize the risk for the patients that I serve. Communication is an essential component in providing good quality healthcare services. Thus, I want to develop my communication skills and to learn how to navigate the healthcare system and what are feasible goals. Right now, I feel very idealistic, and I am slowly learning through the classes that some things that I want to do might not be feasible. I can always adjust the goals and apply them in a different way so that I can incorporate them into my practice. I want to learn the health care system and what I can do to be a good patient advocate, so that I be the best physician for my patients. I also really enjoy getting involved with community, and I am very passionate about social justice and making sure marginal populations are able to get the services they deserve, as well to encourage and inspire youth from these populations to pursue a career in health.
What do you hope to accomplish in your future career as a physician?
Going back to my ‘why’, my passion is the Black community and improving health outcomes in the African Nova Scotian community particularly. I am most driven by combating chronic illnesses and focusing on preventative medicine, since many of these are related to poor access and screening. My ideal practice would be to focus on well-care and focusing on patients in the early stages of illness and those in good health so that they are able to stay well, that’s what makes my heart happy!
I would like to start an outreach program to service more rural areas. If I owned a small clinic I’d like to conduct a traveling clinic in rural areas around Antigonish and Guysborough to service the African Nova Scotian and Indigenous communities and bring more access to healthcare to them. Ideally creating some sort of clinic to service them so they don’t need to travel so far to see a doctor.
What would you tell first year you?
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