Building capacity for birth defects surveillance in Africa: Implementation of an intermediate birth defects surveillance workshop

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Each year around the world, it is estimated that 300,000 neonates are born with a neural tube defect. Many countries, however, are still lacking comprehensive birth defects surveillance registries. Comprehensive birth defects surveillance systems can help countries understand the magnitude and distribution of the problem. These systems can also provide information about biological, contextual, social and environmental determinants of birth defects. This information in turn can be used to identify effective and implementable solutions, and to evaluate prevention and management strategies to improve quality performance. This paper summarizes the development and implementation of an online pre-course training and in-person surveillance workshop conducted between 2014 December and 2015 March for representatives from six African countries. Feedback given by participants provided valuable lessons learned that can be applied to subsequent trainings and workshops.

The Health Development Imperative Beyond 2015

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The horror of Ebola’s recent devastation illustrates some basic truths: Since July of 2014, health systems have rapidly disintegrated, unveiling virtually nonexistent local and regional resilience. Quite simply, there is no avoiding that development efforts in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone have failed. These efforts are emblematic of broader failures by the international development field. As citizens of the countries from which the development organizations that are committed to humanity’s health originate, we are all accountable. This essay describes what changes need to occur to maximize the impact of development efforts beyond 2015.

Host Perspectives of Visiting Medical Trainees: a Qualitative Analysis of Global Health Electives

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Medical trainees from Northern, developed regions of the world increasingly travel to Southern or less developed regions of the world for a clinical experience or ‘global health elective’. There is little research regarding these types of activities. This qualitative project aimed to generate the perceptions that medical students from Uganda hold regarding their Northern counterparts who visit on a global health elective. The purpose was to gain insight into the benefits and challenges of these increasingly popular activities. Thirty-two medical students from Makerere University in Uganda took part in tape-recorded semi-structured interviews. Questions revolved around perceived benefits, challenges, and impressions of visiting Northern medical students. Interviews were analyzed qualitatively. Study participants perceived that visitors come to learn tropical medicine and to practice on patients. Students also felt that there was a lack of interaction and engagement with the visitors. They were, however, eager to benefit from the teaching that could potentially be provided by visitors. This project identified perceptions that medical students in Uganda possess towards students who visit from the North. These ideas provide insight into how global health electives can become more mutually beneficial and with a more accurate definition of their intent.

Patient 095

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During their training, many medical students elect to spend time abroad to fulfill research or clinical program requirements. This is an account of one medical student’s experiences during a research rotation in urban Zambia. Specifically, it details a personally meaningful interaction with a particular research subject. As a result of this interaction, the student reaches conclusions about the practice of medicine in limited-resource regions of the world and the type of assistance that an untrained provider can deliver in these settings. Furthermore, the student comes to a greater understanding of what it means to be a physician. In the end, the student is propelled down a path towards self-improvement and a humanistic sense of duty.

Delivering Healthcare in Somaliland, NW Somalia

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Abstract Limited provision of quality healthcare in Somalia has contributed to infant (109/1000), child (180/1000) and maternal (1,400/100,0000) mortality rates that border the world’s highest (WHO). The self-declared Republic of Somaliland (NW Somalia), with 3.85 million people, is recovering from ruins of conflict. The health sector was hardest hit with distinct challenges in urban and […]

The Impact of HIV/AIDS on Economic Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa: Potential Implications for Rural Botswana

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The HIV/AIDS epidemic is viewed as a potential economic threat to development, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Botswana, for example, has gone through a relatively successful economic transformation in the last two decades, yet this country has the second highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world. There is concern that future development is jeopardized due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, especially because the majority of HIV/AIDS-related deaths are concentrated among people at their most productive working ages. In the absence of this epidemic, prime-age deaths are rare. HIV/AIDS in rural communities results in income loss, decreased worker productivity, and a deepening cycle of poverty. This has a number of economic implications. First, HIV/AIDS may slow or reverse labor supply growth. Second, a reduction in family savings could occur due to increases in health expenditures and decreases in worker productivity. Finally, poverty levels may rise through decreasing the growth rate of per capita income. There is a need to integrate sustainable solutions to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in order to strengthen rural agriculture initiatives. By supporting rural agriculture systems, governments and NGOs can provide solutions not only to the devastation of HIV/AIDS but also to the impoverished communities of rural Africa.

Can It Be Any Hotter?

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Rwanda

In this short piece, Samuel Enumah of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine details a specific and personal experience from a visit to a local hospital in Rwanda.

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