Global Health Blog - June 2011
Greetings from Gaborone, Botswana!
We, the editors of the Tarascon Global Health Pocketbook, decided to begin our contribution to this blog with a joint introduction and overview of our careers and background in Global Health. Between the two of us, we have had experiences and collaborated on health research over the past decade in the USA, Canada, Argentina, Peru, India, and Botswana. We both currently live in Gaborone, Botswana, in Southern Africa. A middle income-country with a wealth of natural resources, Botswana has been devastated by the global HIV epidemic, and has one of the highest rates of HIV prevalence in the world (24%). Here, we are working with local partners and institutions to develop the country’s first medical school and build local capacity in HIV primary care.
Prior to our medical training, we both gained an academic background in Development Studies, a multidisciplinary approach to issues of the developing world. We took particular interest in the work of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, whose “Development as Freedom” concept focused on the public sector and public institutions not as bureaucratic regulators, but as guarantors of individual capacities: health, literacy, and democracy.
As soon as we began medical school, we each embarked on our own “global health experiences,” learning the hard way about the pitfalls of undertaking health projects prior to the completion of one’s training. The Tarascon Global Health Pocketbook was born out of a series of conversations and debates concerning the nature and ethics of our own and others’ global health experiences, and an attempt to reconcile international health work with the core principles of development studies: capacity building, human capital, political economy, institutions, participation, and partnership.
The Tarascon Global Health Pocketbook was designed to be used by medical and public health practitioners at all levels who plan to undertake global health experiences. It is a clinical practice manual providing overviews of common global health challenges: e.g. water borne illness, HIV, meningitis, sepsis. It also provides regional health overviews and country profiles that bring together key indicators relevant to global health practice.
Over the coming months, we plan to continue posting global health posts on this blog, with a particular focus on our combined areas of interest, our work in Botswana, and our research projects:
Global Health Education- How should global health rotations for North American medical students and residents be organized to ensure mutual benefit, adequate supervision, and safety?
Global Health governance- What standards govern the work of organizations engaging in global health (e.g. academic partnerships, pharmaceutical companies, aid organizations)?
ICT tools in Global Health- Information Communication Technology has the potential to revolutionize health care not only in wealthy countries, but in developing ones as well. Mobile phones in particular, given their widespread use in many middle-income countries, have numerous health applications that are currently in the pilot phase.
Amit Chandra, MD, MSc is an Emergency Physician living in Gaborone, Botswana. He is a lecturer at the University of Botswana School of Medicine, and a founding faculty member of Botswana's first emergency medicine residency program. Dr. Chandra studied economics at McGill University in Montréal and development studies at the London School of Economics before attending medical school at the Eastern Virginia Medical School. His current research projects involve global health education, HIV emergencies, aviation emergencies, and trauma and road safety in Southern Africa. In 2010, he co-edited the Tarascon Global Health Pocketbook, featuring chapters on topical and regional issues in Global Health. He also serves as a reviewer for the Bulletin of the WHO and the African Journal of Emergency Medicine.
Matthew Dacso, MD, MSc is a general internist from Houston, Texas. He studied music at McGill University, international development at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies, and medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston before completing residency at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. He has worked in health care in Argentina, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Botswana. His current research focuses on non-communicable diseases in HIV, traditional medicine, and global health medical education. He continues his work in community health and development as an HIV outreach specialist for the Botswana-UPenn Partnership and is an active faculty member of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Botswana, both based in Gaborone, Botswana. In 2010, he co-edited the Tarascon Global Health Pocketbook.