Month: April 2012

We are a Network.

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the 5th meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University. CGIU, brought together over 1000 student leaders and professionals who are commitment to making a difference in the world.

At the conference, I had the pleasure of connecting with Maya Cohen, the executive director of Globemed as well as a number of other members of the Globemed National Team. I was also able to speak with members of other Globemed chapters such as the GW and Columbia Chapters.

One of the main topics we discussed was how we can really become a network. Globemed has done incredible things since its founding. It has spread to nearly 50 chapters across the country, engaging hundreds of students, and raising tens of thousands of dollars for a wide range of partners around the world. It is amazing how many people care about the fight for global health equity and who are willing to devote so much time to the cause. However, if we are to truly maximize the work that we are doing, we need to find a way to work together.

Right now, all the chapters know of the existence of other chapter. Chapter presidents have phone calls with other chapter presidents in order to learn from one another. Globemedders attend Hilltops, GROW Training’s, and Summit in order to meet each other in person and to learn from experts in the field. While this is a form of networking, many of these connections have not yet resulted in tangible change.

One of the greatest assets that Globemed brings to the global health movement is the potential to be a network. As students, we don’t have all the knowledge about health interventions. We do not have as much experience as experts, or our partner, which is why we don’t presume to know the answer to every problem. Our partners are the best suited to make a difference in their communities, not us. What we can bring however, is a connection to a much larger network. As college students, we have access to a breadth of different connections ranging from school officers and professors to family members.

Lets say that one globemed member has connections to 5 different resources that can be of value both internally and externally (a potential donor, knowledge of sanitation interventions from class, a professor who works with bed nets, experience with web design, etc…). This one person is connected to the 30 members of their chapter, each of whom has another 5 connections. Now lets say that this chapter’s connections are made available to 50 other globemed chapters in the country, all with their own connections.
With some simple multiplication, that means that a single chapter can connect their partner to 7,500 different resources that may be of use to them. We just need to connect with one another.

In order for the movement towards global health equity to become successful, we need to find a way to take advantage of this multitude of connections. We need to go beyond talking about being a network, to actually being a network that can share resources to one another.

The Tufts chapter is committing itself to this end. Check back soon for the start of new initiatives to make this happen.

Pushing the Envelope: Turning the Impossible into the Possible

On February 29th, our Globemed chapter here at Tufts had conference call with Gregory Karelas, the Country Director of Nyaya Health and Mark Arnoldy, the Executive Director. After some difficultly with the internet connection in Nepal, we able to speak with them over our President’s speaker phone. It was grounding to speak with Gregory, who currently works and lives at Bayalpata Hosiptal in Acham, Nepal. He gave a detailed description of the landscape near the Hospital and shared stories from his day-to-day life as the Country Director. He shared some of the challenges, for example how difficult it is to recruit a permanent to doctor work at Bayalpata Hospital, and some of the recent successes of the organization. In the last seven months, the hospital staff has grown by 25% and on the 25th Nyaya broke ground for its new surgical center. He also reported that this year has seen many more patients than the last, and almost double the amount the hospital saw in two years ago.

It was incredibly inspiring to speak with two men so dedicated to gaining health equity in Acham, Nepal. Gregory explained how government officials frequently question Nyaya’s ability to create a sustainable, yet free clinic, and he pointed out that Nyaya has successfully created a free and growing hospital in five years. “We’re really pushing the envelope,” he said.