Last night around 59 million people watched the 3rd and final presidential debate on foreign policy. They were treated to an at times civil, at times heated, and at times old fashioned debate on some foreign policy and a surprising (or not too surprising) amount of discussion revolving around the domestic economy. While there were many mentions of terrorism and nuclear war, there was not a single mention on any of the world’s largest killers, namely preventable deaths due to disease and poverty.
Annually around 655,000 people die from malaria each year, between 1.6 and 1.9 million people die from HIV/AIDS, and 1.4 million die from TB each year. It’s also estimated that every day 29,000 children die from preventable causes around the world. To put these numbers in perspective, from 1969 to 2009 there have been a total of 5,586 American fatalities as a result of terrorist attacks and 4,488 servicemen have died in Iraq and 2,012 have been killed in service in Afghanistan. Now, you might say that the president is in charge of US national security and should not be concerned with the deaths of some nameless people in some other country. What would a proponent of that viewpoint say to the fact that on average 36,000 Americans die from the common flu each year? Given the political discourse in the United States, they would probably not say much.
My point in writing is not to belittle the tragic deaths of Americans at home and abroad that were caused by terrorism, nor to dismiss the staggering number of good people that have been lost fighting for the US around the world. What I do want to point out however is that it is utterly ridiculous to completely remove Global Health issues from the discourse. Ten times the number of people who died in World War died in the 1918 influenza pandemic. This is a trend that has continued throughout history, that disease and preventable deaths stand as the top killers compared to those directly affected by conflict. How can you talk about foreign policy without talking about global health policy? Likely because it is an issue that the average American doesn’t care about. As a result, presidential initiatives devoted to Global Health have been decidedly lackluster, ranging from Bush’s PEPFAR which generated a great deal of funding but spent it in a politicized way, to Obama’s creation and later closing of the White House’s Global Health Initiative. Even without a mention of global health as a humanitarian issue, there was also not a single mention of pandemic threat which should play into the American political calculus.
Both candidates attempted to win the favor of voters at the foreign policy debate. The topics they discussed were important in international politics and for the most part should be given attention to by the commander in chief. As a global health advocates however, we need to hold politicians and the media accountable to the fact that global health issues are real and found throughout the world, and deserve at least one mention in the US foreign policy agenda.
Call for Action: Be an advocate! Contact your state representative today and let them know that you care about global health policy.
After careful deliberation with our partner, http://www.nyayahealth.org/, GlobeMed at Tufts has decided on a fundraising goal for the 2012-2013 school year. We are excited to announce that we will be working towards funding 18 solar panels for the Bayalpata Hospital, located in far western Nepal. Each solar panel will cost $360, brining our fundraising dollar amount to $6480.00, according to GlobeMed’s Memorandum of Understanding. These solar panels are essential to phase II of Nyaya Health’s solar energy system.
Nyaya needs power. In January 2011, before phase I of the solar energy system was installed, the Bayalpata Hospital was connected to the public grid, operating about 30% of working hours, and used a generator as back up. This summer, GlobeMed’s GROW interns, David and Laura, experienced first hand the serious implications lack of power can have on a hospital’s ability to provide care. They witnessed many tragedies that could have been avoided if the hospital had simply had more energy. For example, one new-born suffered due to lack of oxygen. The oxygen tank was there. The doctor with knowledge to operate it was there. The power was out.
Because the infrastructure is still developing in far-western Nepal, traditional sources to electricity are rare. For this reason, Nyaya Health chose to implement an independent and long-term solution: a solar energy system. This solar energy system will support Bayalpata’s critical need for power. Additionally, Nyaya recognizes that, as a renewable energy source, solar energy will have long-term positive impacts on public health. Please visit Nyaya’s wiki for more information about their solar energy project.
Information compiled from: http://wiki.nyayahealth.org/w/page/51049248/Solar%20Energy%20at%20Bayalpata%20Hospital
Call to Action: Please check out our calendar and attend our campaign events around the Tufts campus!
Recently, in an effort to increase visibility and attain more data necessary to continuously improve their standards of care, the Nyaya Health members at Bayalpata Hospital began collecting data specifically focusing on the admittance and treatment of young patients. The hope is that the collection of these facts and figures will allow the organization to progress in its treatment of this especially susceptible population.
While certain challenges arose throughout the process of data entry—a difficult task to accomplish efficiently without computers—the physicians and health assistants pressed on. When keeping paper records was found to be unsuitable, the health assistants at the hospital were given the opportunity to practice using laptops, as they would for data entry in the future, which, fortunately, made the whole process much smoother and more effectual.
These efforts show a cognizance of and sensitivity to the reality of health care procedures not found in many health organizations. The consistent implementation upon evidence-based programs is laudable and will surely contribute to Nyaya Health’s continued success in its ultimate goal: furthering the cause of equity in global health care.
This specific direction for the gathering of data is only the beginning. As Nyaya Health’s director of data and evaluation, Jackie Pierson, wrote in a blog post on her organization’s website, “Future programs and services will be revised based upon the data we gather in this initial phase.”
A recent outbreak of swine flu virus (Pandemic influenza A, or H1N1) has affected thirty-eight people in Nepal as of October 11th,about a week after the initial outbreak. According to NDTV, the last time Nepal experienced a swine flu outbreak was in 2009, when over forty fatalities resulted.
Swine flu is easily treated when detected in its initial stages. Nepal has experienced over twenty fatalities from viral fever, many due to late detection. To most of us, getting the flu wouldn’t be a huge deal. We would miss classes or work for a week, take medication, and be fine. To many Nepali people, swine flu could mean death, simply because it isn’t detected and treated fast enough. By simply providing Nepali people with a facility that’s equipped with the resources to treat things like the flu, we can make a huge difference in lowering fatality rates for diseases and inflictions most people might barely think twice about.
When Jeffrey Kaplan, a member of Nyaya Health’s Board of Directors, visited Nepal recently, he became bed-ridden with a stomach bug. He described in his blog post, “In our world, this is a temporary inconvenience. Under the worst case, you hit the Emergency Room at your local hospital, get hooked up to an IV, and then move on with your life often within a day. … But for those billions of people without access to Bayalpata or another adequate facility, the results can be much worse.”
Call to Action: By supporting our chapter’s current project, we can prevent problems like the lack of access to proper resources. If we succeed in our mission to fund the addition of eighteen solar panels to Bayalpata Hospital, we can help provide the necessary care to Nepali people who could otherwise remain untreated.