International Health Programs
Global Public Health
School of Public Health faculty members have a long history of international research, practice and teaching, beginning in the 1930s.
Many, including Dr. Dan Okun and Dr. H.G. Baity, who was the nation’s first doctoral graduate in sanitary engineering (Harvard, 1928), were experts on water and sanitation issues.
In the 1940s and ‘50s, funding from federal and international agencies allowed School researchers, in Dr. Lucy Morgan’s words, “to widen the circle” of understanding and improve the health of all the world’s peoples. From the American southwest to Peru, from South Africa to the rural southern U.S., the basic health needs of individuals and communities were more similar than not.
Today, more than 50 faculty and staff work in more than 45 countries, conducting research in nutrition and obesity; maternal and child health and family planning; treatment and prevention of HIV/ AIDS, malaria and TB; water sanitation; health care policy and health disparities; and injury prevention and domestic violence, among many other topics.
Visit the Gillings Global Gateway to learn more.
A Blog from South Africa
by Deborah Bender, PhD, MPH
Health Policy and Management
We Have a Long Way to Go
Saturday, October 13, 2007
“Mirriam worked as a staff nurse in a Home for the Elderly in Cape Town for many years. Though she is retired now, she is not about to slow down! She and the 18 others – all volunteers — regularly make home visits to elderly residents in the Township. They help out with bathing and feeding and ensuring that each resident is taking medicines according to doctor’s prescription.
When Mirriam or one of the volunteers makes a home visit, they sometimes uncover other unexpected problems. Sometimes a daughter has left her children with her elderly mother to go to work. Other times, it is more difficult; the children may live permanently with the elderly relative because they have been orphaned by AIDS, which has taken a parent’s or parents’ lives. The hardest for Mirriam to accept is that some of her elderly, themselves, have contracted HIV/AIDS through being unaware of protective precautions necessary when caring for an infected adult daughter or son.
Mirriam says that TB is also a problem in the community. Again, sometimes people do not take their medicines. But, in this case, Mirriam thinks that it is the doctors who prescribe the medicines who do not understand the community well enough.”
“One of the volunteers made a follow-up visit to the home of a man who did not return to the clinic for his TB meds. The volunteer asked him why he did not come. He answered, simply, ‘The doctor told me to come back for my medicine after I had eaten. I haven’t eaten. That’s why I didn’t come.’”
“Did you have any trouble with the language in the eight countries that you visited?” This question has been asked me repeatedly and my answer is, “No, with the exception of Britain.”
“Our group had more difficulty understanding both the pronunciation and the words used by the British than in any other country. A British recipe called for one binder (egg), two tablespoons of castor (sugar) and one gill of milk. The indicator on the scale that weighed me pointed to nine-seven. Confident I weighed more than nine pounds and seven ounces, I asked a Britisher what that meant. She replied, “Stones.” Most enlightening!
The English language is used everywhere. The use of American slang, always startling, is also amusing. In all countries, bands, orchestras, radios and accordions played our music. Gone With the Wind was shown to packed houses in Rome. Many of our books have been translated. . .
One can never appreciate America, its greatness, its progressiveness, until one sees Europe.”
UNC Project Library in Malawi
The UNC Project Library, organized in Malawi in 2004 with the collaboration and ongoing support of UNC Health Sciences Library, serves as a critical information hub, offering print and electronic resources for the clinical research and educational activities of the faculty, staff, and students of the UNC Project and Kamuzu Central Hospital.
The library is located at the Tidziwe Centre in Lilongwe, which is only fitting as “Tidziwe” is a word in the local Chichewa language meaning “We should find out.” “The value of the project and the library is in the people that it’s really helping. It’s an invaluable service because it’s building the health systems in Malawi.”
—Dr. Irving Hoffman, Director of International Operations, UNC Center for Infectious Diseases
International Medical Theses Collection
In 2004, the UNC Health Sciences Library acquired a large historical collection of International Medical Theses donated by the New York Academy of Medicine. The collection consists of tens of thousands of post-1801 theses in multiple languages from prominent medical schools throughout the world. Europe is well represented, with many theses originating from universities in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Countries with lesser quantities in the collection include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Algiers, Indonesia, and others.
Useful for anyone interested in tracing the development of clinical and scientific inquiry in medical schools in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the collection is also notable for providing a record of the entry of women into the profession of medicine. Women denied entrance into American medical schools, for instance, sometimes turned to Europe for a chance to pursue their studies. One such pioneer is Dr. Susan J. Dimock, who was born in 1847 in Washington, North Carolina. Rejected at Harvard, she was subsequently admitted to the University of Zurich and completed her medical degree in 1871 with a defense of her dissertation (lower right) on the various forms of puerperal (or “childbed”) fever that she observed in Zurich maternity clinics.
As one of its digital initiatives, the Health Sciences Library has digitized Dr. Dimock’s dissertation, and made a selection of others available online as well. A guide to the collection will also be published online as the collection is further processed, which will aid researchers in mining it for historical and empirical material.