Last week, the Earth Institute hosted a group of thirty-five students from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to discuss topics ranging from reproductive health concerns in Chad to the use of mobile technology for health services in the Millennium Villages Project. Led by experts from the Earth Institute’s Center for Global Health and Economic Development (CGHED), International Rescue Committee, Clinton Foundation, and the United Nations Development Programme, the discussion provided an opportunity for Bloomberg students to gain career advice from top scientists and leaders and to talk about current developments in the field of public health.
Spotlighting current trends and developments in the public health sphere was Patricia Mechael, the mHealth and Telemedicine Advisor at CGHED. Mechael and the mHealth team are exploring innovative uses of technology to achieve the MDGs in partnership with Ericsson, Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development, and other leading technology and healthcorporations and foundations. At the community level, mobile technology provides a new and effective way to monitor nutrition, immunizations and illness through SMS. Applications such as an open source medical records system are providing more support to Community Health Workers, enabling them to better build sustainable, community-oriented health systems.
Another speaker working on cutting-edge solutions to global health issues was Karen Schmidt, the Deputy Director of the Access Project. The Access Project is an initiative of CGHED and the Millennium Villages Project that aims to improve the health of people living in poverty in Rwanda. It uses a unique model that works to implement business and management capabilities in public health systems and to increase access to life-saving drugs and critical health services. In the dialogue with Bloomberg students, Schmidt emphasized that health centers in developing countries are more effective in the long-term if they are taught basic management systems, incorporating finance, human resources, and infrastructure development in the training. This has effectively worked in Rwanda where the use of the model has increased quality, capacity, and accessibility of care.
This collaborative effort by all organizations kept the conversation stirring for almost two hours. The event turned out to be great success for students, public health leaders, and scientists to connect, understand, and to address pertinent global health issues along with future career opportunities.