Saturday, August 4, 2012

NTDs Education!: Kala-Azar (Visceral Leishmaniasis.

Visceral Leishmaniasis exists in Southern Europe, India, and Eastern Africa. The video talks about there being nearly 1.5 billion diseases, and talks a lot about the costs of treatment. Truly Great. The WHO lists both paromycin (mentioned in video) and liposomal amphotericin B as essential medicines for the disease.

For even more information, check out One World Health on Youtube or at their website.

This is the first of weekly posts dedicated to making education about NTDs simple and easy!

Monday, July 30, 2012

BRCA Gene Case: Ethics Vs. Profits

Hello Everyone,

This case has been going on for as long as I've been involved with UAEM, and it is slowly gaining more and more public appeal. Recently Ethan Guillen (former UAEM Executive Director) sent a link to the chapters email listserv with a blog that has been following the case intently and has lots of updates. Here is a short summary (I do regret that I have not read a lot of the blogposts).

Myriad (biotech) bought the rights of the discovery of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 breast cancer genes, and patented their own test for their presence. The test is highly conclusive and can give physicians an insight into breast cancer cases extremely early on. The problem: they hold exclusive rights over the test AND the genes. This means that only Myriad can perform the tests (and there have been people sued for trying to duplicate it) and only Myriad can develop new tests, since they literally own the gene. Now, there have been cases that have reached the supreme court in which discoveries similar to these genes have been deemed unpatentable (unfortunately my mind is slipping on the name of the case).

Basically to make the story short, the case is very much active. It seemed that courts were really ruling in the direction of ethics, deeming the patents not valid, until it reached an upper level appeals court, which deemed them valid under patent law. The hope is that the supreme court will see the case and rule on the side of humanity over profits, but we'll all have to watch.

Meanwhile, here's the link to the blog:


Sunday, April 29, 2012

If you were unable to attend the Sujal Parikh Memorial Symposium on Health and Social Justice, or loved it so much you would like to watch the presentations again, you are in luck. The presentations from the symposium have been made available at Please feel free to share the videos with anyone you feel would enjoy them!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Just a little opinion of mine...

Gandhi’s Public Health Proposal: Children After an inspirational, educational, and motivational conference this past weekend, I wanted to further explore the utility of public health research, when it should be conducted, and whom should be the focus. We have a vast sea of knowledge on certain pandemics, but are sickly deprived in other important areas. Research must be purposeful towards improving the health of individuals. How do we do that...? "If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children" -- Mohandas Gandhi. Who is going to argue with one of the most influential men of our time and his infallible statement? However, this aphorism, although accepted by many, is implemented by few. Specifically in the field of public health, campaigns are often targeted towards children, but the research exploring the roots of these causes is often an inadequate amount. Academic research relating to health behaviors of children in much of the world is not at a caliber conducive for adequate policy change and program development to improve public health. How can we fix a problem if we do not understand it? Wars against non-communicable diseases, substance abuse, and other public health fights related to health behaviors must begin with understanding the causes of the causes: why are children motivated towards certain actions which put them at risk for certain diseases? When this is understood, progress in public health can be made. A prime example of where further research of children’s health behaviors could be beneficial--the diabetes pandemic of Belize. As the leading cause of death in Belize, diabetes is a major public health concern (The Epidemiology Unit, 2009). The overall national prevalence for this non-communicable disease is 13.1% (Gough E et al., 2008). However, the incidence of diabetes is increasing (The Epidemiology Unit, 2008; The Epidemiology Unit, 2009): from 2000-2030, the region of Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to see a 40% increase of people with diabetes in their total population (Wild et al., 2004). In a study conducted by the Ministry of Health, Belize and PAHO/WHO, statistically significant associations were found between diabetes mellitus and age, hypertension, BMI, total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglyceride, and waist circumference (Gough E et al., 2008). Conclusions of the study stated that these findings provide justification for the development of national policies and programs to address these public health issues and furthermore, a need to emphasis diabetes prevention (Gough E et al., 2008). But what comprise beneficial prevention strategies? Gandhi might suggest focusing on children. Behind Gandhi’s aphorism, several studies have supported that investments in early childhood development are powerful means to reduce the escalating chronic disease burden in adults, reduce costs for judicial and prison systems, and enable more children to become healthy adults who can positively contribute to society, socially and economically (ECDKN, 2007a; Engle et al., 2007; Schweinhart, Barnes & Weikart, 1993; Schweinhart, 2004; Lynch, 2004). This is because many challenges in adult society have their roots in the early years of life, including major public health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and mental health problems (CDSH, 2008). Therefore, exploring these roots could lead to answers that could develop policies that could potentially prevent future generations from the predicted prevalence of 32,959,000 cases (Wild et al., 2004) of diabetes in Latin American and the Caribbean by the year 2030. The causes of the causes should be explored: What causes certain health behaviors, which subsequently cause certain diseases? Researchers in Europe have already signed onto to Gandhi’s public health proposal. The Health Behaviors of School-Aged Children (HBSC) is an ongoing international study carried out in collaboration with WHO/EURO investigating ‘causes of the causes’. The perspective of the study is one in which adolescent health related behavior is seen as part of young people’s broader lifestyle, viewing health in a social context. With developments in scientific management and theoretical perspectives, HBSC has made a substantial contribution to the area of youth health (Currie et al, 2009). Unfortunately, the HBSC study has been limited to Europe and North America. However, evidenced by its success, international health could be greatly improved by its expansion. Similar studies should be conducted in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Central America…around the globe! What could happen if Gandhi’s public health proposal was adopted in Belize? What if we better understood what was motivating children towards certain health behaviors, specifically when it came to food consumption? The onset of diabetes mellitus is largely influenced by diet, and such habits are largely developed in childhood (CDSH, 2008). During childhood, a significant amount of time is spent at school. Children are exposed to various factors influencing health behaviors during the school day, including personal factors such as peer-pressure, and environmental factors such as what food is available for purchase at the school store and what is served for lunch (if the school serves lunch). Therefore, similar to studies conducted by the HBSC should be conducted in the Latin America and Caribbean region, exploring the ‘causes of the causes’ in order to further understand the complex situation of health behaviors and lead to improved prevention strategies. What impact would Gandhi’s public health proposal have in Sub-Saharan Africa? The Appalachia region of the United States? Southeast Asia? We must further explore and understand before we can make sustainable improvements in public health. And we can begin with children... -Rebeccah

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Update on Myriad BRCA1 and BRCA2 Case

The case of Myriad in the patentability of human genes has been a concern for many who believe in equal access, as it stops people from getting access to a more advanced step in testing for breast and ovarian cancer. It has been an issue brought up many times by many in the health industry. Originally, in 2010, the case for patenting these genes resulted in a ruling of these genes as "un-patentable."

In a more recent development, an appeal's court, the previous ruling was overturned, allowing the patents to stand. This is now being appealed to a higher federal district court.

The supreme court is putting pressure on the appeals court from the previous case to overturn their ruling, especially after they ruled a medical test unpatentable earlier this year.

Check out this article in the NY Times for more information: Here

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Introducing: Clint Smith

A FreeWord alumnus, Clint Smith is one of our highly anticipated speakers/ presenters for the "Second Annual Global Health Conference: Fight 4 Equal Access." A picture is worth a thousand words so how many is a video worth?

If you enjoyed that piece, you would surely not want to miss out on the superb performance that he is going to give at the conference. For detailed information about the conference click here.

In the meantime, you may satisfy yourself by watching more of his videos. :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tiyatien Health

Tiyatien. Pronounced tea-ya-tine. Origin:  Kwa, the local dialect in southeast Liberia. Meaning: both ‘truth’ and ‘justice’. 

TiyatienHealth is an organization bringing health workforce and care to remote villages in post-war Liberia, where more than 60% of the nation's rural population lacks access to essential health care. Founded on collaboration between Weafus Quitoe, a community health worker, and Dr. Raj Panjabi, a Harvard-trained physician, the organization trains community members and former patients to serve as health workers, delivering medical and social services to communities previously considered unreachable.

A recent post on their website highlighted an important issue in health: an individual's state of mind.  Members of Tiyatien Health are bringing attention to the burden of mental, neurological, and substance-abuse (MNS) disorders.  While often neglected, MNS disorders contribute greatly to the global burden of disease.  A healthy community must not only have access to physical health care, but mental health care as well.  More information on MNS and proposed plans for addressing this global issue can be accessed here. Tiyatien’s focus on mental and physical health in addition to their sustainable model for delivering health services makes the organization truly worthy of its name-Tiyatien.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What can you do with 50 cents?

With 50 cents, you can help bring the end to 7 neglected diseases!

Check out the End 7 Campaign at their Facebook page: Here

Or Follow on Twitter: @end_7

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dr. David Yanga: Introduction to Conference Speakers

In honor of the upcoming 2nd Annual Global Health Conference: Fight 4 Equal Access, I thought dedicating a few blog posts to conference speakers and organizations would be a valuable introduction to these persons and initiatives working towards health care equity.

Let’s start with our keynote, Dr. David Yanga, a primary care physician in Southeast Michigan and founder of HealthScepter.  With the current burdening cost of health care on the individual, many patients in need of drugs—locally—are either unable to afford medicines, or must make economic sacrifices to obtain medicines, sacrifices that may severely affect their quality of life.  HealthScepter addresses this issue.  Through a website (, they have organized current online data on transparent medical prices in a straight-forward and focused way, allowing patients and physicians to see transparent prices for medications, labs, imaging studies and equipment.  This website is a patient’s tool to navigate through the medical market; it is an advocate for patients.

While Universities Allied for Essential Medicines devotes much of their fight to access to medicines in low and middle income countries, it is important to recognize and work in our own country to bridge health care disparities.  Dr. Yanga and HealthScepter are prime examples of this work. 

We therefore are very excited to host Dr. David Yanga as our keynote speaker at the 2nd Annual Global Health Conference: Fight 4 Equal Access on March 31st-April 1st.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Stop Novartis

Sign MSF's petition to stop the European Commission from gaining control over generic medications! This is an easy way to add your voice to the Fight 4 Equal Access.

Sign the petition by clicking here:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Honorable Mention of UAEM by a Nobel Laureate

Nobel laureate Sir John Sulston mentions about UAEM recently at the University of California Global health keynote: (goto 47:07 if you dont want to watch the whole video)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Check out the conference's promotional video! Share it! Tweet it! Post it! Spread the word!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Conference Registration open!

The registration for CMU-UAEM's 2nd Annual Global Health Conference: Fight 4 Equal Access is now open! Be sure to register for this free event taking place at Central Michigan University on March 31- April 1! you can register by clicking the "2nd Annual Global Health Conference 2012" tab at the top of the blog or by visiting .

Registration is free, but we do encourage donations to make this event more possible!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

UAEM Meetings: Spring 2012

Meetings will take place at 8pm on Tuesdays in Anspach 151. We will have weekly meetings at least until our conference, on March 31, 2012. Come meet with UAEM and leaner how to make your own contribution to the Fight for Equal Access!