Videos of Keynote and Plenaries

The keynote lecture, “‘Nothing Less than a Revolution: Why I’m Preoccupied with Inequality, Social Justice and Health” by Kavita Ramdas is now available as well as plenary talks on global mental health and climate change.

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Jose Vargas speaks about undocumented immigrants at the University of Washington

Jose Vargas, a well-known journalist and Pulitzer prize winner, spoke to a communication class at the University of Washington on Tuesday about his status as an undocumented immigrant in America and efforts to change the stigma and laws surrounding illegal aliens.

His main goal? Expose the issues undocumented citizens face. Vargas “came out” as an undocumented citizen nearly a year ago in the New York Times, and he said he wants to “write my way into America.”

“I want to expose this issue and kind of take it out of the ghetto — the ghetto in our minds where this is relegated to,” Vargas said.

To do this, Vargas said the conversation starts with ordinary citizens, who he said need to accept that undocumented citizens like himself are not a threat.

“We can’t afford for people to be ignorant,” he added.

For more on what Vargas is up to, check out his website, Define American.


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Influenza preparedness in the developing and developed worlds

By Sandi Halimuddin

“Who believes what happens in African until it happens in America?” asked Keith Klugman, chair of Emory University’s global health department.

During his presentation “Influenza and the Pneumococcus- A Deadly Synergism,” Klugman raised global health issues, such as the disparity of research and awareness between diseases affecting the developing and developed worlds.

The 2009 H1N1 pandemic is evidence of this claim; the high incidence rate in developed worlds contributed to significant media coverage and a call to action. In contrast, many developing countries lack advanced pandemic preparedness programs and strategies.

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Are we helping people abroad or just using them as a means to an end?

If you thought you were going to the Western Regional International Health Conference to pat yourself on the back about being a “do-gooder”, you were likely set straight by Sunday’s closing session. The afternoon was a humility boot-camp for humanitarians.

According to Shafik Dharamasi, graduate degrees and ego boosts are the real ends we seek in our oversees quest to “help others”. In regards to research and work abroad, Dharamasi cut us down to size.

“In research ethics, we agree that it is not okay to use people even to the most legitimate end. Is it really okay to feel comfortable with and reconcile something only to realize that we may be using others?”

And what did Dharamasi suggest we do to help?

“The best way for us to help others is to save them from our help.”

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Ever heard of frog? Part of panel “Global Health and Communication Outreach”

Moderator Tom Paulson with the Humanosphere blog, kicked off the session by saying the global health narrative is narrow and clichéd and the media has not moved into serious coverage of issues, such as controversies and fights over power. But he challenged attendees: “We can change the narrative of global health with social media.”
Speakers included Lauren Dunnington, with the International Training and Education Center for Health or I-TECH, the largest center within UW’s Department of Global Health; A. Teaque Lenahan with frog, a global innovation company; and Adam Pellegrini with WorldDoc.
Lenahan’s presentation really intrigued me because this company, which stands for Federal Republic of Germany, is a huge thinker of global challenges.
Frog was started 40 years ago and helped put Apple on the map. Lenahan’s talk was unlike other presentations. He knew how to capture an audience. He had video, great graphics, and talked about things like motivational design. .

frog helped the Nike Foundation try to connect 100m girls around the world.

He shared two projects frog was working on. One was for the Nike Foundation, which wanted help connecting 100m girls around the world starting with 30 13-year-olds in Kibera, Kenya. The project,, involved spending several weeks in Kibera to see what girls thought would work and spread. The idea, still in the works, is using cell phone technology and tapping into the power of Girl Scouts for ideas.. The other was for Cleveland Clinic, which wanted to become a digital hipster like the Mayo Clinic but didn’t have a progressive social media culture. Lenahan said one creation they designed for the old-school clinic is called “The Atrium,” a place to collect patient stories online.
On the website, what they did for Cleveland Clinic would be called frogThink. “We deploy frogThink at moments of clarity and confusion to create alignment, to generate new and innovative ideas, and to escape the paralysis that’s all too common in corporate cultures.”
Frog was founded in 1969 by designer Hartmut Esslinger around the maxim “form follows motion.” The firm has been instrumental in the design of Louis Vuitton luggage, the flat screen Sony Trinitron, colorful frollerskates, flexible workstations, and, in 1984, the Apple computer.
Lenahan said. frog builds on emotions as a foundation and unlocks the power of communities. “We want to find out what motivates people,” he said.
In fact, all the speakers focused on thinking outside the box in a somewhat smaller way. Dunnington helped show how building a functioning library is critical in solving global health problems and Pelligrini is behind a company that started a Facebook app “Jamajic 360” to monitor disaster risk, establish “Lifeline” relationships and post emergency information to a subscriber’s wall.
I, personally, would love to be a fly on the wall at frog.

– Bobbi Nodell

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Vector-Host and their connection to climate change

By Joshua Chin

On Sunday’s 9th International Health Conference, one of the topics addressed is the Vector-Host Interactions, introducing audiences to the recent invasive disease such as Bluetongue that decimated farmers’ livestock.

With the assistance of moderator Judith Wasserheit, a panel of three scholars came together to discuss the affect of climate change on diseases, and the means to minimize the current scope.

From left: Dr. Collins, Dr. Palmer, Celia Lowe


Dr. Guy Palmer, a Pathology professor at the Washington State University explained with the rise in global temperature, virus-carrying vectors such as mosquitoes and midges are allowed to thrive and infect hosts as large as goats and sheep.

In fact, despite the drop in average temperature around northern Europe due to climate change, the lower climate actually prompts the midges and virus alike to survive in milder weather, enhancing their longevity.

“As these vectors’ duration of life increased, they begin to enter the unimmunized, naive population,” said Dr. Palmer.
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Overlooked Diseases: An Epidemic of Neglect

(from left) Carrie Barrion-Shmidt, Peter Milgrom, Lisa Cohen and Chris Nelson prepare their presentations for The Understudy's Role: Global Health's Next Challenges.

By: Megan Manning

With prevalent diseases such as AIDS threatening both impoverished and developed nations alike and demanding the attention of the medical world, many other proportionately fatal health problems are being abandoned on the wayside. At the 9th Annual Western Regional International Health Conference, this was something that many believed needed to be addressed. “The point is to get away from the usual diseases that we hear so much about and that get so much funding,” says Lisa Cohen, the executive director of the Washington Global Health Alliance and moderator of The Understudy’s Role: Global Health’s Next Challenges. “If you look at the global burden of disease, some things are not expected: respiratory disease from wooden stoves, for example.”

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“Queering Global Health”

By Peder Digre | @pederdigre

Professor David Allen, chair of the Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies department at the University of Washington moderated the session entitled “Queering Global Health” in which a broad range of queer issues related to global health were discussed and introduced the panelists for the discussion. Questions that framed the discussion were: 1) What would queering global health mean beyond LGBTQ populations? 2) What would some aspects of bringing queer participants into global health? 3) What does focusing on health challenges of LGBTQ populations clarify and obscure in global health?

Marcos Martinez, the objective director of Entre Hermanos, an advocacy and support group for the latino LGBTQ community in Seattle gave a brief recount of his work with the organization and the organization’s mission and accomplishments over the past 20 years. Entre Hermanos began at the time when the existence of HIV/AIDS epidemic was a prominent issue in the public eye, but was an issue that primarily affected men who have sex with men (MSM). Entre Hermanos commenced work in Seattle with focusing on HIV prevention with MSN as well as gay pride.

Martinez stated that, “It became obvious that people in the community are much more multidimensional than that”.

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Effectively using technology to improve global health

By: Erin Flemming

In developed countries, technology can help streamline the healthcare system. But, extending technological innovation to international communities can be a challenging feat, especially in the areas of usefulness and affordability. Paul Yager, the Hunter and Dorothy Simpson Endowed Chair of the Department of Engineering at the University of Washington, served as moderator of a discussion with innovators in technology development in global health on Sunday at the Western Region International Health Conference.

Sailesh Chutani, CEO and co-founder of MobiSante, was the first speaker at the “Improving Global Health with New Technology” panel.

MobiSante is a company that manufactures a mobile phone ultrasound. This device costs nearly $8,000, and is a portable version of the classic ultrasound machine.

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Researchers fight HIV Stigma and Discrimination

by Sean Duncan

A panel of three speakers shared research and findings about HIV stigma in foreign countries Saturday in a session at the WRIHC,

Chloë Waters, assistant to the executive director at I-TECH, shared her research results from a study done in Lima, Peru, about the importance of formal and informal treatment supporters.

“When people have access to informal and formal social support,” Waters said, “this leads to initiating recovery, coping, and acceptance.” Continue reading

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