APHA San Diego: A passion for Primary Health Care

By Monica Dyer

WHO World Health Report 2008
WHO World Health Report 2008

Attending the Community-Based Primary Health Care workshop yesterday was one of the most invigorating experiences I have had in quite a long time. It was so fantastic to meet people carrying out work that I have been constantly thinking and talking about the need for. As my colleagues and I struggle to establish a comprehensive community health center in Gatineau, Haiti we are constantly trying to figure out whether or not we are actually implementing best practices. While we all value the importance of making decisions based on evidence and learning from others’ mistakes, it is incredibly challenging to find detailed information. Through this process and past research, I have been made especially aware of the need for more accessible and thorough documentation of both effective and ineffective practices and implementation experiences in global health.

This is not to be unexpected as organizations carrying out this work are usually so over-extended and resource constrained that documenting their processes and practices often becomes low-priority unless it is to meet the requirements of funders. However, when this is the purpose of such documentation the tone changes from factual reporting of successes and failures to trying to demonstrate efficacy so that a donors will keep sending money, so financial survival is not the best motivating factor for the objective documentation needed. In my own experience so far, although we have said that documenting and sharing the entire process of establishing a community health center would be a very useful activity that we would like to do, we have thus far been unable to follow through while dealing with all of the day-to-day logistics of running a clinic, seeking/maintaining funding and the planning of future programs and community organizing. If we had a volunteer historian or could work with students to take the documentation process on as a project for course credit, it might be much more feasible. However, with limited time to coordinate such efforts and so many critical activities competing for our resources, this honestly falls relatively low on our hierarchy of needs. 

I was encouraged when I recently heard about the Global Health Delivery Online www.ghdonline.org but somewhat disappointed that it thus far only includes HIV, TB and Technology discussion communities. Understandably, these are in the scope of the founding collaborators’ chief interests but I hope they will continue to expand this venue into other important realms in need of increased attention. Continue reading “APHA San Diego: A passion for Primary Health Care”

Stories from the Field: Just and Lasting Change

On May 28th, Prof. Carl Taylor was honored as the inaugural recipient of the Global Health Council LifetimePhoto by Medora Hebert, Global Health Council Achievement Award for his dedication to improving the health care of the world’s most marginalized people through innovative and sustainable community-based interventions. During his acceptance speech, Dr Taylor discussed the future of global health and that new directions will be required to meet the challenges as globalization takes over. He talked about the need to focus on “peoples self reliant social change” and that the greatest problem is going to be the issue of the “worlds total health ecology”. This is when the “3-way partnership” is important; where in addition to the top down officials and programs, and bottom-up self reliant communities, a new generation of health professionals must emerge that specialize in bringing the top and bottom together to find new patterns for collaboration. When this is accomplished, Dr Taylor believes that health for all will be possible and mutual empowerment will begin. (Photo by Medora Hebert, Global Health Council) Continue reading “Stories from the Field: Just and Lasting Change”

Stories from the Field: What is your vision 200 years from now?

It’s impossible not to be moved by William Foege, MD, MPH, a leader in public health who continues to educate, motivate and challenge those who are searching for new solutions to complex global issues.  Last week at the Global Health Council’s annual meeting, Dr Foege spoke to individuals interested in pursuing careers in global health.  He chose to share lessons from his years of experience…. lessons we can all learn from.

  1. Preparation:  You cannot know everything in advance, public health combines multiple disciplines. Become a generalist and find a specialty that interests you.
  2. Possibilities: 10 years ago the options were few, now the possibilities are endless. Continue reading “Stories from the Field: What is your vision 200 years from now?”