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 brie.rehbein@dal.ca 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 dal.ca/globalhealth.

Have you heard about Rohit Ramchandani?

By: Sarah Boucaud, Global Health Office Outreach Assistant

Who is Rohit Ramchandani?

a) A “Rising Star in Global Health”
b) Public health adviser & principal investigator at ColaLife
c) A guest speaker at Dalhousie
d) All of the above

If you answered “d) All of the above”, you are correct!

Photo courtesy of linkedin

Dr. Ramchandani, Photo courtesy of linkedin

Whatever your answer choice, are you interested in hearing more?

Dr. Rohit Ramchandani is a public health adviser & principal investigator at ColaLife. This innovative charity asked the question: “Coca-Cola seems to get everywhere in developing countries, yet essential medicines don’t. Why?” Using the same principles and networks that Coca-Cola and other commodity producers use, ColaLife seeks to open up private sector supply chains for ‘social products’. These include oral rehydration salts and zinc supplements to treat diarrhea.

Dr. Ramchandani is also Founder & Executive Director, Antara Global Health Advisors; Doctor of Public Health Candidate, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health; and Adjunct Lecturer, University of Waterloo School of Public Health & Health Systems. He is recognized as a “Rising Star in Global Health”, and his work focuses on improving lives, increasing equity, and preventing needless loss of life by providing global health expertise, experience, partnerships, and evidence-based public health and management advice.

Still not satisfied in your quest for knowledge? – See Dr. Ramchandani in person

Come see him speak live at our Global Health Town Hall March 31 @ 5:30 pm! This event will also celebrate Global Health Awards, Photo Contest winners and student graduations.

Graduations: Advocates in Global Health and Health Systems Certificate


  • Dr. Ron Stewart Student Award
  • Dr. Jock Murray Resident Award
  • Dr. John Savage Memorial Faculty Award

Please RSVP: gho@dal.ca
Looking for more event information? dal.ca/globalhealth

See you there!

Image Courtesy of ColaLife.org

Image Courtesy of ColaLife.org

The Emerging Themes of Ebola: One Health

By: Benjamin Capps, Department of Bioethics, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University
December 2014


I was invited to give a talk for an event on ‘Ebola: Perspectives on the Epidemic ̴ Where to Begin’ taking place on 20th November 2014.[1] The immediate ethical concerns of the outbreak were raised: the dire conditions of the people the disease is affecting, and the consequent response from the international community. However, an additional point to reflect upon was that Ebola, just one of many zoonotic diseases, raises questions that can be rendered with the broadest brush – the makros kósmos – the idea of a global health response.


Benjamin Capps Image courtesy of the Department of Bioethics

Zoonotic viruses, diseases that transmit between humans and non-human animals, are intimately linked to ecological niches; each virus can be stirred from its environment through different connections,  and each has a different potential for illness, endemic and pandemic. Questions like ‘Why now?’ and ‘What next?’ are significant, then, not only in the local devastation that these diseases cause, but also in respect to their effect on the global community. For Ebola, at this point we are dealing in the unknowns and knowns of the ‘ecology of the virus’. This is because until now it has been found only in remote areas of Africa (but nevertheless decimating those communities it comes into contact with), and little was known about its potential for, and behaviour during an epidemic. We know little about the natural history of the virus – we still don’t know the reservoirs,[2] or why so rarely it emerges in human populations. However, I suspect that many – those studying the nature of the virus in its natural environment – thought that not only an outbreak of this magnitude was possible, but also likely; and filling these gaps will affect our ability to formulate clinical and ethical responses.

The emergence of zoonotic diseases is becoming ever more common; and they are cropping up in far more diverse places and often not always those that are remote, wilderness fringed communities (recently: bird flu in Canada, Germany, Netherlands and the UK; this year in South Korea, Japan and Malaysia). New kinds of zoonotic virus, such as Marburg, Hanta, Hendra, Nipah, and MERS viruses, are threatening humanity, our closest relatives (the great apes), and other animals at unprecedented levels;[3] and their effects on the wider ecologies (including how we respond to them) is devastating.


Ebola virus Image courtesy of the CDC

We therefore need to appreciate how and why the environment only spits them out when challenged or stressed; why the viruses spill over and emerge in human populations only sometimes; and thereby understand how we might better avoid them altogether?[4]

In this respect, an emerging area of study, called One Health, is demonstrating that not only will a healthy ecology be less likely to send these viruses our way, but it can also protect us by buffering and ‘soaking up’ zoonoses.[5] So, we need to look to other solutions of prevention, not just the ‘pandemic plans’ that tend to decimate local animal populations (culling of domestic animals and local wildlife), threaten ecological diversity and socio-economic sustainability (the impacts on agricultural and cultural ecological co-dependence), and then tend only to be useful after the event and once human-to-human transmission is sustained.

Event poster courtesy of Dal Med GHI

Event poster courtesy of Dal Med GHI

Overall, we ought to be looking to better ways to minimise the emergence of these diseases through an ecological perspective; understanding not only the human effects and solutions that presences (vaccines, public health measures), but also the reservoirs, connections and drivers of disease emergence. It is clear that land use (mining, oil refining), deforestation, and urbanisation are having an unprecedented effect on these ecological niches; so, we need to start accounting for local needs – including land management, like farming and husbandry; economic and political priorities in these countries that are most at risk; and the global interactions that are conditional on disease emergence.

These debates need to start off on better footing, by engaging with a much broader expert base and expanding traditional and often too narrow public health concerns.[6] This dialog must include veterinarians, biologists, ecologists and anthropologists; and as diverse as economists and historians. The risks are known, if not well understood, and we need to develop ideas about how human beings can better and more effectively live within the ecology that potentially harbours these diseases.


[1] My thanks to the organiser of the event, Suzanne Clarke, a MED2 Student from the Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University. Suzanne also assisted with the drafting of this blog. The event was presented by Dal Med Global Health Initiative, Dalhousie University Global Health Office, Capital Health, Dalhousie Medical Students Society, Health Association of African Canadians & The Tropical Medicine Student Interest Group, and broadcast in multiple locations across The Maritimes, Canada. The opinions expressed here are my own.

[2] Probably bats; but we still don’t know how it gets into them, how it resides there, or how it then emerges in susceptible populations like human beings and other primates; Plowright, R. et al. 2015. Ecological Dynamics of Emerging Bat Virus Spillover. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 282: 20142124; Pignott, D. et al. 2014. Mapping the Zoonotic Niches of Ebola Virus Disease in Africa. eLife 3: e04395.

[3] See: Genton, C. et al. 2014. How Ebola Impacts Social Dynamics in Gorillas: A multistate Modeling Approach. Journal of Animal Ecology doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12268; Walsh, P. et al. 2007. Natural History Miscellany: Potential for Ebola Transmission between Gorilla and Chimpanzee Social Groups. The American Naturalist 169: 684-689.

[4] Capps, B., Bailey, M., Bickford, D., Coker, R., Lederman, Z., Lover, A., Lysaght, T., and Tambyah, P. (In press; 2014). Introducing One Health to the Ethical Debate about Zoonotic Diseases in South East Asia. Bioethics.

[5] See: N. Harris & R. Dunn. Species Loss on Spatial Patterns and Composition of Zoonotic Parasites. Proc R Soc B 2013; 280: 20131847; F. Keesing, et al. Impacts of Biodiversity on the Emergence and Transmission of Infectious Diseases. Nature 2010; 468: 647–652.

[6] Capps, B. and Lederman, Z. 2014. One Health and Paradigms of Public Biobanking. Journal of Medical Ethics.Online first doi:10.1136/medethics-2013-101828.

Congratulations to Our 2015 Student Award in Global Health Winner!

2015 Dr. Ron Stewart Award for Student Leadership in Global Health
Ms. Laura Stymiest
Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick Class of 2015

Dr. Jennifer Hall (Associate Dean, DMNB), Ms. Laura Stymiest, Dr. John Steeves (Interim Associate Dean, UGME)

Dr. Jennifer Hall (Associate Dean, DMNB), Ms. Laura Stymiest, Dr. John Steeves (Interim Associate Dean, UGME)

Laura is our first award recipient from Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick!

Laura’s interest in global health was evident during her first few weeks at Dalhousie.  She held the positions of Global Health Liaison Junior and Senior for the Dalhousie Medicine Global Health Initiative from 2011 to 2013.  In this role Laura was responsible for engaging other students in global health issues around campus.  Her work involved, but is not limited to, organizing training sessions, arranging guest speakers, fundraising, and community events including AIDS awareness day.  Laura is also a graduate of our Advocates in Global Health Certificate program.

Laura’s involvement in global health issues extends beyond the classroom and she has been involved in numerous projects with marginalized populations locally.  One example of Laura’s ability to lead and motivate is in her work on a database of low cost resources for at risk children and their families in the Saint John area.  From this Laura created a “Social Peds Elective” for first and second year medical students to work with community organizations and these families.  She has presented this work at local, national and international levels and has encouraged others to create similar programs.

After completing her first year of medical school Laura spent a portion of her summer teaching about Community-driven Health Impact Assessment at the Coady Institute in Antigonish, NS. After second year Laura worked here in Halifax with the North End Community Health Centre on health advocacy research project.

Laura is a clear leader and mentor in global health and we are very honoured to present this award to her.

Laura is a student with tremendous character and integrity. She has been instrumental to advocating for social justice issues in our community and has inspired her fellow classmates to work to give others a better future. I’m certain she will continue to effect change after she graduates.

Profound Learning @ Global Health Rounds

By Sarah Boucard, Outreach Assistant, Global Health Office


Some of my favorite learning experiences, whether inside or outside the classroom, have been those lead by passionate individuals. When someone loves their work, it reads in their face, in the way they lecture, and in their willingness to share their experiences and mentor others. This is why I would like to invite you to join me in attending Global Health Rounds, on the 3rd Wednesday of each month, held by your very own Global Health Office. Each of these sessions highlights a different global health activity at Dalhousie or a contemporary global health challenge through presentations and talks by leaders in the field. The rounds are a forum for discussion, questions, and interaction. Each has left me with more than just increased knowledge on the topic at hand.


The intimate setting has given me an opportunity to meet like-minded people, network, and pursue different opportunities. So far, two sessions have been held. The first, was on social accountability within medical schools and was led by Ms. Shawna O’Hearn, Director of the Global Health Office, and Dr. Jeff Kirby at the Department of Bioethics. The second, lead by Dr. Des Leddin at the Faculty of Medicine, was titled “Health Education; Can the Net Level the Playing Field?”. He spoke of international partnerships in the establishment of specialty care centres in other countries. The facets of global health explored by these leaders are relevant to health professionals, researchers, and the public alike. As an emerging health care administrator, my own values and understanding have been tested through these rounds when I learned the value of establishing specialty facilities in developing countries, even when some of the most basic health care needs still have to be met.

I have to say, I felt as though I was being exposed to “inside information” throughout these discussions, candid and unpublished truths from the mouths of the experts themselves.


Jeff Kirby, Courtesy of Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine

The next upcoming Global Health Round is with Bob Huish, Assistant Professor, Department of International Development Studies. He will explore the topic of “Why does Cuba care so much about Ebola? Understanding the Solidarity Approach to Global Health”. I hope to see you all there!  November 19, 2014 @ 5-6pm Tupper G-36, DMNB Saint John Rm 218.

For more information: Global Health Rounds