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AGPHI Mid-Year Update

Fall '18 Highlights

Happy New Year and welcome back to GPH!  Last semester, the Applied Global Public Health Initiative (AGPHI) welcomed new members, took on new projects, and learned from some of the best in the field of global public health.  We had members working with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, a team raising funds to combat mycetoma in Sudan, and teams collaborating across continents and time zones to influence positive change in Uganda.  We stepped outside of our comfort zones to attempt song-writing and challenged ourselves to explore new data visualization softwares. It was a semester of learning and growth and we are looking forward to the exciting new opportunities Spring2019 will bring!

In October, Dr. Juliet Bedford, adjunct professor at NYU GPH and Founder and Director of Anthrologica, held a discussion on her work on Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Anthrologica is a research-based organization that specializes in applied anthropology in global health, and as the lead anthropologist for the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, Dr. Bedford was able to bring this unique and cross-sectional perspective to the field. She spoke on Anthrologica’s role in the DRC, explaining how mistrust, misinformation, violent landscapes and open borders continue to pose challenges in containing the Ebola outbreak.

Juliette Bedford’s Talk on Ebola in the DRC: Social Science & the Response


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Building Public Health Narratives Through Music with Carlos Chirinos

In December, AGPHI partnered with Professor Carlos Chirinos' Music and Social Change Lab and GPH's Comms Academy to engage students in developing skills in public health storytelling. Students were divided into groups to create a verse of a song to send to Les Amazones d'Afrique to inspire public health-focused messaging for their newest album. Students focused on themes of domestic violence and presented their lyrics at the culmination of the workshop.

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Little girl growing up, eight years old
Seeing her family in her home
Her mom has bruises, black & blue
She says “Momma what has happened to you?”

She said “Don’t you mind, honey, this is fine
We’ve been taught to stay in line
Don’t you mind, honey, this is fine”
You say it’s fine, but…
This life is mine.

Student Narrative 1: Becca Newbold, May Li, Emily Holzman, Ashley Newcomb, Vaibhav Srinivasan, Anjali Kumar, Jenna Mote


3 minutes late
What is he going to do now
Red around the dark of his eyes
I’m a person
Why does he do this?

Tremors in my leg
Fire in my eyes
You say you love me, but
I think you own me.
I’m a person
Don’t touch me.

Student Narrative 2: Jinal Shah, Farid Bagheri Ardestani, Vicky Radios, Miah Roberts, Patty Medina

Working on teams is essential to and expected in the field of global public health, and we get plenty of practice in AGPHI.  Teamwork is not always easy; it requires compromise, open communication, and the balancing of personalities and tasks, and we encourage our members to embrace these challenges and learn from them.  All of our teams have been hard at work over the last few months to define the scope of their projects, manage expectations, and communicate effectively with their teammates and outside agencies. Despite time differences, technological difficulties, and budget constraints, these teams are learning, persevering and accomplishing amazing things in the process.


Mycetoma in Sudan

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Mycetoma is a chronic, progressively destructive morbid inflammatory disease that most commonly affects the foot and is acquired by certain fungi or bacteria permeating the skin. In Sudan, this disease is endemic and primarily affects those of low socioeconomic status who work in manual labor, barefoot, and in rural areas.  Unfortunately, this affects mostly young adult males between the age of 20-40, who are in the prime of their lives. Mycetoma is a slowly progressing disease, and with the lack of healthcare access and education in Sudan, it is often diagnosed late, when amputation is the only option. This means that these young, able-bodied males are unable to work, which can be economically detrimental to families of already low socioeconomic status.  In 2016, Mycetoma was added to the list of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) but funding and awareness for this disease remain low.

One team from AGPHI, led by Eiman Ahmed, has been working closely with an organization called Mycetoma Patients Friends Association to help develop strategies to provide treatment to patients living in rural areas of Sudan.  Last semester, the team went above and beyond to raise awareness and crucial funds to address this underrepresented disease and to provide the Sudanese people living in rural areas with shoes, a simple and effective means to prevent workers from contracting the disease. This semester, the team will continue to challenge the status quo and work together to prioritize activities, develop strategies, and raise funds to improve health outcomes in rural Sudan.

Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals in Urban and Peri-Urban Uganda

Butemba Jonathan (abroad), Edward Galiwango (abroad), Farid Bagheri Ardestani, Jinal K Shah, Vicky Radaios & Miah Roberts

Meeting the SDGs in Urban and Peri-Urban Areas of Uganda will be no easy task.  Like many low and middle-income countries (LMICs), Uganda faces a range of challenges to achieving “good health and well-being” for all of its people, not limited to a lack of infrastructure and human capital.  As we see time and time again in public health, health outcomes vary significantly between regions, cities, and villages, and Karamoja, specifically, has significantly higher maternal, infant and child mortality rates than the national average.

Working across time zones, with two MPH SDG students in Uganda and four MPH students in New York City, the team has overcome technological and communication issues to map important public health actors in the region, conduct a systems-level analyses, and begin to design a case study to conduct on the ground.

UNICEF Cox's Bazaar & AGPHI Partnership 

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What began as AGPHI member Corbin Kappler's internship project in Cox's Bazaar, has now been expanded into a two-team collaboration with UNICEF.  The humanitarian response to the Rohingya refugee crisis has now been ongoing for several years, and over 900,000 refugees have settled in Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh.  Throughout the crisis, UNICEF and other organizations on the ground have managed to collect a tremendous amount of data that can be analyzed and used to identify bottlenecks and improve response strategies.  Unfortunately, the urgency and scale of the situation has postponed any such analysis and there is now an immediate need for improved information sharing.  Additionally, it is now acknowledged that Rohingya will be in Cox's Bazaar for the foreseeable future, and to ensure the safety of all refugees, it is time to begin modeling the risk for potential disasters in the Bay of Bengal region. 

To address these issues, this semester, teams will focus on two key activities outlined in the UNICEF-AGPHI partnership.  The first involves assessing UNICEF's current information sharing practices, identifying bottlenecks and challenges, and providing strategies to strengthen the sharing network. The second involves developing a clear, intuitive way for UNICEF, the Bangladesh Army and other response organizations to visualize disaster risk. 

The ultimate goals of this exciting and challenging project are to improve data flows and to implement a computational disaster risk modeling software.  These tools are crucial to the success of the organized response to the Rohingya refugee crisis, and with the help of AGPHI, UNICEF will be better equipped to promote the health and safety of all refugees in Cox's Bazaar. 


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