Annual Meeting, Final Day: Between Malaria and TB with no Coffee is not a Good Place to Be

I usually get restless on the last day of a given conference. It is really a shame, too: the presentations on the last day are just as interesting and important as those on the first, but by then I am already thinking of getting home, following up with connections made, and going through the business cards I picked up (and trying to find them on Linked In). Fortunately for me, two of the three global health hot topics were featured this morning: malaria and tuberculosis.

The session on malaria and vector-borne diseases featured several presentations on distributing insecticide-treated bed nets and their impact, as well as one that highlighted the importance of accurate diagnosis. I have been interested in malaria ever since I was an undergraduate student at Texas A&M, so I always attend sessions on malaria if they happen at a given conference, and it is always encouraging to see how much energy there is to fight it. (I took part in a student debate at the 2007 Entomological Society of America’s annual meeting, and I went to every vector-borne disease session they had.)

Up until that point, I’d had no coffee, so I gave in to my need for caffeine and bought an over-priced latte.

The TB session was also interesting, particularly because it is another area in which I have a lot to learn (though USAID’s Global Health eLearning Center has helped a lot with that). Despite being one of the top three global diseases, it has always seemed to be the red-headed stepchild of the three big killers – since HIV/AIDS and malaria always seem to dominate the news and be a whole lot sexier in general. The presentation on latent TB in a colonia in Baja California in particular stood out to me. During my work as a Pesticide Poisoning Surveillance Fellow at NIOSH last year, I drafted an article on pesticide poisoning in farm workers and learned quite a bit about their unique burdens. With all of the attention on our ongoing border “crisis” (or however it should be phrased), I think this will remain in the spotlight.

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the Global Health Luncheon, as I had to catch the Sky Rail to the airport for my flight. If I find any coverage of it, I will be sure to post it here. (If you would like to cover it, dear reader, be sure to let me know!)

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