Friday, August 1, 2008

The First Post

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for checking out my new (and first) blog! I hope to use this space, at least initially, as a daily repository for anecdotes, photos, video, and thoughts as I make my first trip to Ghana during the month of August. I'll be traveling to Ho, Ghana and the HOPE Center, which is a rural medical clinic that I've been working with for a couple years through GlobeMed at Northwestern University.

A little bit of history about GlobeMed and the HOPE Center is probably in order. The HOPE Center was the brainchild of John Broach (then an undergrad at NU) and a dynamic community organizer from Ho named Joseph Achana. The two met when John traveled to the Ghana on a study abroad trip in (I believe) 2005, and together decided that there was a unique opportunity to link the enthusiasm and resources of college students in the United States directly to communities around the world lacking equitable access to health care.

When John returned to NU, he rallied a group of Northwestern students who were also interested in health and human rights. Together with support from the Rotary International and many individual donors, they raised over $40,000 to provide the initial funding for the construction of the Center. Finally, in April 2007, the HOPE Center opened its doors. Currently, there are four full time nurses at the Center, all employees of the Ghana Health Services (GHS). They provide primary health services, immunizations, injury treatment, as well as maternal care to the people of Ho.

GlobeMed as an organization, also grew out of the ideas that students could effectively partner with grassroots health organizations to improve the health of communities. Again, here is the link the GlobeMed website. Here is GlobeMed's mission and vision:

GlobeMed's mission is to connect the assets of a student-led network to grassroots health organizations working in communities around the world. By inspiring and training university students to mobilize resources for global health, we seek to build a movement fighting for a more sustainable and secure world.

Our Vision is to build a world where all people have the opportunity to live a healthy life.

While we see an unjust world of broken systems failing to deliver for its citizens, a different world is possible. This world can be realized only if we encourage and harness the potential of emerging sources of change:

  • We see students as dynamic leaders: When young people are connected with constructive forms of global health engagement, they can step up to be the leaders of our world both today and into the future. The world demands our generation to deliver critical leadership on issues of global health, and investments in inspiring and developing this leadership are vital.
  • We see grassroots leaders in underserved communities fighting to build stronger health systems: Grassroots leaders are working to improve the health of their communities in poor areas around the world. By devoting our resources in support of these local leaders and their communities, important contributions can be made in building vital health infrastructure.
So, as you can see, GlobeMed is focused on developing tomorrow's leaders in global health through engaging students in global health projects and by supplementing that experience with practical skills training and fostering an understanding of issues in global health. Since the HOPE Center and GlobeMed at Northwestern was founded, 12 more chapters of GlobeMed at universities across the nation have also joined the network. The model on which GlobeMed as has been based: students partnering with communities to improve global health, has now been replicated at U Michigan, Truman State, USC, and Washington University in St. Louis to name a few. Each university has a health partnership, similar in relation to the HOPE Center and GlobeMed at NU.

For example, GlobeMed at U Michigan has developed a collaborative relationship with Joy Southfield Health and Education Center in Detroit, Michigan. They host weekly health education sessions at the clinic and also volunteer at the Center, doing administrative work and advertising for the education sessions. Truman State has worked with Maison de Naissance, a birthing clinic in Torbeck, Haiti to improve their ability to measure measure and evaluate health outcomes from service programs. There are many more examples of great partnerships across the GlobeMed network, and every year more productive health partnerships are forged.

I hope that this gives some context to my work in Ghana. Over the next couple of days (before I leave), I'll be adding more detailed information about my specific project, as well as the projects that the other members of my team will be working on. Feel free to shoot me an email with any questions or comments.

I'm so excited this is finally happening! Stay tuned for updates!

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