The Tufts EPIIC 2013 Symposium on Global Health and Human Rights was held last weekend and was a great success. The EPIIC students prepare throughout the year various panels and discussions with experts in the field and they themselves present research of their own. The four day event examined issues in global health from a variety of disciplines and featured Peter Piot, the founder of UNAIDS as the keynote speaker. Panels ranged in topics from food security, sexual violence, and mental health to bioterrorism and health systems. Audience members were given the opportunity to question the panelists at the end of each session, stimulating some provoking and challenging debate on some of the most important issues facing our planet today.
A particularly engaging lecture pertained to water, sanitation, and disease. Three Tufts professors, David Gute, Jeffery Griffiths, and Daniel Langtagne, were joined by Janine Selendy, author and Yale professor, and Junaid Ahmad, Director of Sustainable Development for the World Bank in the Middle East and North Africa. The panelists spoke of health problems stemming from inadequate and unsanitary water and current programs to provide people with better water. 884 million people in the world do not have access to clean water and 2 million children under the age of five die every year form diarrheal disease; a result of consuming infected water. The relationship between water and sanitation was discussed, as many diseases are caused by bacteria spread via the fecal-oral route. Additionally, environmental factors were discussed and their connections to disease and malnutrition. The experts explained viable programs to deliver improved water to communities across the world. The main emphasis was the importance of community. What to target and how are successfully derived from the communities’ needs and abilities, exemplifying a founding principle of public health. Through involved leadership and ownership from the community, behaviors can change to provide countless people with clean water and a better chance to prevent disease.
EPIIC has a long tradition of engaged, interdisciplinary, and provoking themes and this year proved no different. Tufts and Tufts students are constantly looking outward at global issues and sustainable progress in issues affecting the world. The Symposium provided the community with the chance to learn about pressing topics and possible ways to mitigate problems.