Originally from Riverside, California, Sanji Gowda is a first year, Neuroscience major at UCLA. She is a member of the Campaigns committee and will be the incoming Co-Director of Campaigns for the 2016-2017 year! If she had to watch one tv show for the rest of her life, she would choose FRIENDS, because it’s the best show of all time.
The GlobeMed Summit of 2016 brought together students, alumni, experts and activists to discuss healthcare as a fundamental human right and to address the inequities of healthcare in the present global context. The conference featured a diverse group of passionate professionals who were each contributing to the mission of the right to healthcare in their own unique way. Particular speakers, such as Dr. Abdul El-Sayed and Dr. Sharon Rudy brought different perspectives and niches of knowledge to the conference’s discussions. Networking with various organizations and global health minded individuals, was truly a remarkable experience!
One speaker, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed discussed his ideology of expanding global health care by starting work locally. He also emphasized the revolution of global health definitions in the last few decades. According to Dr. Sayed, the main issues to be addressed from a global health perspective are no longer infectious diseases but rather chronic diseases. He repudiated this statement by discussing how obesity could lead to the first decline in lifespan in the United States in the past century. The topic of rising obesity in the United States was further discussed by his research and projects in Detroit, Michigan. In the past few years, Detroit has undergone major devastation after claiming bankruptcy. The city’s economic downfall resulted in a major population loss, which is the primary cause of “food deserts” in the city. Food deserts are areas where grocery stores are extremely inaccessible in terms of distance and cost. The lack of affordable, healthy food choices is one of the major causes of declining health in the city. It was extremely interesting to learn how infrastructure and social and political environments can have such large effects on health.
This idea of focusing on healthy eating habits to prevent chronic diseases was further emphasized by speakers who presented on a Washington D.C. Initiative called D.C. Greens. This organization, funded by the federal government, expands food access, food education, and food policy by increasing opportunity to healthy eating options. The organization does so by issuing medical prescriptions for healthy foods that allow low-income individuals to purchase ten dollars worth of fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious items for free once every week. The growing number of initiatives like the aforementioned repudiate the trend towards maximizing preventative efforts to minimize healthcare costs in the future.
Another topic that particularly stood out to me was the topic of the expanding avenues from which to pursue a career in public and global health. Dr. Sharon Rudy of the Global Health Fellows Program at the Public Health Institute discussed the three broad realms of public health. She described these three realms as the realm of research, the realm of development, and the realm of service provision. Dr. Rudy also shared with us the qualities needed to be a successful contributor to global health equity in the 21st century. These qualities included knowledge management, global health business skills, resource optimization, and interpersonal effectiveness. She emphasized the importance of coalitions and furthered Dr. El-Sayed’s message of maximizing efforts in one’s own community and using those experiences to expand ideas and initiatives abroad. She concluded with an encouragement to pursue work in global health with the mindset of leading as a servant. From her statements I was further inspired to engage with my community and beyond to allow each and every individual the opportunity to a healthy life.
An analogy that was often tied to the conversation of being a leader in global health was that of waterfall. If individuals were jumping into a waterfall, would the best solution be to try to tediously save each falling individual or devise a method to stop those very individuals from jumping in the first place? This is essentially the purpose of 21st century global health initiatives – to devise preventative measures to stop the spread of disease and improve health by recognizing needs and tribulations of communities before catastrophes arise.