February 11, 2011

Faculty Collaborate to Piece Together Global Health Puzzles: Part II

       The faculty panel session ended with faculty sharing their expertise on two additional global health research puzzles followed by a facilitated discussion, lead by Elizabeth Bradley, Director of the Yale Global Health Initiative.

Maria Diuk-Wasser, assistant professor of epidemiology, presented the global health puzzle on climate change and health. Her research centered around the question, “How do we assess vulnerability to the health effects of global climate change on the multi-scale ecological and social processes that contribute to disease?” Examples of climate change effects from environmental stressors included extreme temperatures, air pollution, vector borne disease and water borne disease. These new climate changes could increase incidence of heat and cold stress, cardio and respiratory response, malaria, dengue, cholera, food security, malnutrition, forced migration and even human conflict at the global level. One of her examples of this puzzle illustrated vulnerability at the community level. A map of the United States highlighted regions with higher incidents of heat mortality.  The regions with greater mortality clustered in the North, where temperatures are cooler on average than in the South, where temperatures are higher.  This lead to an interesting discovery by proving not everyone is equally vulnerable and mortality rates coincide with adaptability to heat.

The next panel, lead by Elizabeth Bradley, discussed examples of relatively inexpensive and cost-effective technologies and behaviors that are not widely adopted, called innovation and scale up. Innovative technologies directly impacting health included contraceptives and medications. Unique products also included cooking stoves that help improve respiratory health issues. Barriers for new technology adoption include both demand and supply side incentives, such as lack of information, taste and tradition, credit and savings constraints and inappropriate design.  One new design being tried to overcome men’s relative lack of interest in cooking stoves included manufacturing a cooking stove that could also charge a cell phone. 

With the completion of the panel, Elizabeth Bradley facilitated a discussion to connect global health research puzzle topics. Although the discussion was relatively brief, faculty addressed about an array of global health topics that included: how government can enact policies impacting global health, visions for global health now and for the future, how vulnerable populations can be protected and the role genetics plays in global health research.

Faculty showed their commitment to collaboration across multidisciplinary platforms during the symposium. One comment during the facilitated discussion expressed the common sentiment for global health meetings to continue to help build relationships between departments.

Amanda Sorrentino, GHLI Intern

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