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!



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:

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!


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

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 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

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




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.




“Hello nice people from the moon” – student blog

By: Jen LeBlanc
Outreach Coordinator, Global Health Office


Dalhousie Students in Tanzania

Dalhousie Students in Tanzania

This summer the global health office is supporting three Dalhousie University students completing research and internships in Tanzania. They are embracing this cultural and clinical experience with such enthusiasm and blogging about it as often as they can; so much so that we wanted to share some of their stories with you.  The students’ visit coincides with Ramadan, a holy month observed by Muslims worldwide that requires fasting from sunrise to sunset, and these bright students considered what this might mean before they arrived.

Before coming to Dar, I was apprehensive about Ramadan (the holy Islamic month in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset). I wasn’t sure if there would be restaurants open, would it be offensive to walk around with a water bottle? These were some serious concerns. However, despite the large Muslim population, Dar is fairly relaxed…..My favourite experience living in a largely Muslim city is the haunting call to prayer resounding above the sound of horns honking and crowds milling about the street. While I don’t understand the words, it still offers a feeling calm, and a sense of being transported from the hectic chaos that can be daily life.

To complement their research and placements the students are taking language classes.  This has been important for the students to learn some conversational Swahili which has offered them more meaningful interactions with friends and colleagues and has deepened their appreciation for the culture that surrounds them.  They are also enjoying the tastes of the local menus – sounds like they could write their own guide book on the best butter chicken in the neighbourhood.

It’s nice to see that they have also found some time to visit the National Museum and discovered items that are not only historically interesting but also related to their visit.

A little more on point with our purpose for being in Tanzania was the exhibit on the HIV epidemic. Which included some interesting cartoons from the 1980’s (the height of the AIDs crisis and before the availability of antiretroviral medications, when the diagnosis of HIV was the equivalent to a death sentence).

We are so proud of these students! They are doing amazing work and are wonderful ambassadors for Dalhousie. Their blog posts are short and sweet, because let’s face it – they are busy and we are glad they are spending so much time out exploring their surroundings. The benefit is that they give us a snapshot into this amazing experience and they allow these students to feel connected to someone or something bigger. If you would like to read some of these stories yourself please follow the blog link.

Congratulations to Our 2015 Resident Award in Global Health Winner!

2015 Dr. Jock Murray Award for Resident Leadership in Global Health
Dr. Gregory Knapp
Department of Surgery

He has demonstrated a true and, quite frankly, contagious passion for global health work. His undeniable desire to support global health initiatives and his perseverance to find new opportunities is truly inspirational.

Dr. Knapp’s global health career began in high school and extended into his undergraduate education where he dedicated many hours to the local Red Cross Council. In 2006 while in India he was exposed to the Indian health care system and became aware of the connections between economics, culture and health.  This led to Dr. Knapp’s participation in the 60th Annual International Seminar in West Africa, a joint venture by CIDA and WUSC/CECI.  He was one of only 20 students from across Canada and examined barriers to women’s education in northern Ghana.  This sparked Dr. Knapp’s interest in interdisciplinary and cross-cultural group work and effective leadership in such circumstances.

Gregory Knapp’s undergraduate thesis examined the spread of HIV in post-conflict Angola and he went on to complete a Masters of Science in International Health Policy at the London School of Economics.  Upon returning to Canada, Dr. Knapp began medical school and coordinated the creation and implementation of the Bachelor of Health Science’s Global Health Specialization at McMaster University.  His hands on approach meant that he taught one of the undergraduate courses to incoming students.

Greg has been an integral part of the creation and on-going activities of the Dalhousie University Global Surgery Office.

In January 2014 Dr. Knapp participated in a trip to the University of Dodoma in Tanzania that resulted in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding later that spring.  The focus of this partnership is to provide necessary surgical training to learners, instructors and researchers in Tanzania. This unique partnership will use tele-simulation capabilities and as the lead for this project, Dr. Knapp is exploring opportunities for electronic mentorship.

Dr. Gregory Knapp is a global health leader focused on research, teaching and mentorship.  He understands the importance of interdisciplinary and cross-cultural cooperation and is sensitive to the requirements of low-resource settings. We look forward to what the future holds for our 2015 Resident Award in Global Health winner!


Dr. Gregory Kanpp receiving his award plaque


Dr. Gregory Kanpp chatting with Shawna O’Hearn


Dr. Gregory Knapp & Ms. Shawna O’Hearn

Congratulations to Our 2015 Faculty Award in Global Health Winner!

2015 Dr. John Savage Memorial Award for Faculty Leadership in Global Health
Dr. Ronald George
Department of Anesthesia, Pain Management and Perioperative Medicine

Dr. Ron George demonstrates a strong commitment to global health across his career.  His work in anesthesia, obstetrical anaesthesia and systems change reflects his desire for social justice. As a leader in global health Dr. George has made sustainable partnerships, research, teaching/curriculum, and mentorship the focus of his work.

Ron’s involvement with global health began in 2006 when he became a volunteer with Kybele, an NGO focused on improving childbirth safety worldwide. Dr. George worked at the Tamale Teaching Hospital in northern Ghana where he initiated a partnership focused on training and quality improvement for obstetrics and obstetrical anesthesia. Dr. George continues to be involved with Kybele as a team member as well as serving on the board of directors.

In his nomination letter from Dr. Andre Bernard who worked in Ghana says;

I was struck by Ron’s passion for seeing health care transformation as a systems-level intervention, requiring local leadership as well as empowered participation by health care providers and administrators at all levels.

Locally Dr. George is involved with the well-established partnership between Canada and Rwanda focused on residency training in Anesthesia.  Ron also serves as Director and co-chair of the Anesthesia for Global Outreach (AGO) course, one of three courses globally, that happens annually in Halifax.  Begun in 2008 the course focuses on training and preparing anesthesiologists for work in resource limited contexts, particularly in low income countries.

Ron is seen in our Department as one of the go-to people on global health…Ron is a dynamic leader who has consistently demonstrated a passion for improving the lives of others.


Dean of Medicine Dr. Tom Marrie, Ms. Shawna O’Hearn, Dr. Ron George, Dr. John LeBlanc


Dr. Allen Finley, Dr. Patricia Livingston, Dr. Ron George, visiting Rwandan fellows


Dr. Ron George receiving his award plaque


Dr. Ron George with Ms. Shawna O’Hearn

Case Competitions: A capstone learning experience

By Sarah Boucaud, MHA(c)

You don’t often hear the words “health” and “competition” in the same sentence, but with Dalhousie hosting their first Health Care Team Challenge, the health professional programs are looking to competition as a fun, interdisciplinary way to learn.

In fact, it was a big year for Dalhousie in regards to health care related case competitions. At the end of February 2015, I participated with two of my colleagues in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Case Competition. It was a challenging and highly rewarding experience. We had three weeks to solve a health care case based in the United States and present it to a mock Board of Directors in Alabama. The case was comprehensive and involved building new service lines, strategic recruitment processes, and space allocation within new facilities. It was an unforgettable experience. We were the only Canadian team among 38 other teams from the United States.

The University of Alabama Case Competition was an opportunity to combine all of the knowledge and skills attained from the Master of Health Administration into a single academic endeavour. Drawing on more than just academic proficiencies, successful participation required teamwork, endurance, and unwavering determination. The chance to compete against schools from the U.S. was a rare opportunity to be immersed into another health care system—it was without question one of the most challenging and rewarding academic experiences of my degree. – Bennett Jovaisas, MHA(c)

A handful of times, other participants told us how “brave” we were to tackle a case based in a health system other than our own. In truth, we probably had a bigger learning curve during that three week case preparation period than most teams. However, throughout our experience, the commonalities of our two systems became apparent. We all want the same outcomes: happy and healthy populations. We also face similar challenges in achieving this goal, such as changing demographics and the need reduce costs.

The experience was invaluable. I learned a lot about a different health care system and a different way to perceive health. I also gained insight into my own strengths in working as a team and how to support one another in a demanding environment. We all come to the table with different experiences and ideas, but having those tough discussions around a common problem can truly generate new and innovative solutions.

Collaboration plays a valuable role in health care, but after this experience, I can’t help but think that a little competition is a useful learning tool in the health professions!


A global health paid internship opportunity: Pack your bags for Tanzania!

Why do you want to study or work abroad? For a new experience? To challenge your perceptions? To explore and learn from new health systems?

gho_internships_tanzania_summer2015There are a multitude of reasons and reciprocal benefits to global health internships and community learning opportunities. What often lacks is the resources to undertake these experiences. That’s why you can’t let this opportunity pass you by! The Global Health Office is offering two paid internships this summer in Tanzania with an NGO focused on HIV and community based care. These internships are made possible by the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships Grant from the Government of Canada. Once again, not only do you have the support of GHO staff, but up to $6, 000 to cover airfare, living expenses, vaccinations, and visas. 

From May until August, you will work closely with Tanzanian staff at PASADA on projects related to HIV/AIDS. The internship positions are for two project assistants (Key Populations and Prevention with Positive Clubs).

There is still time to apply! The application deadline is March 27, 2015. Please contact for more information or visit our website.

If you can’t get out of your current summer plans to make this opportunity a reality, stay tuned for the summer of 2016. There are more internship opportunities to come! You can also check out our other local and global health programs through