Posts filed under ‘Student posts’

APHA 2017: A Sobering Reminder and Forward Momentum

Many of our students attended this year’s meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), held in Atlanta, November 4 – 8. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Grace Saul, BA

APHA 2017 was held at the Georgia World Congress Center

For me, the 2017 meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA) showcased what I consider to be some of the public health field’s greatest strengths:  a firm grounding in the understanding that human health is organically tied to the environment, and an unwavering commitment to the use of scientific evidence for advancing health outcomes for all, even—and especially—through turbulent political times.  Less than six months after the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord, the APHA used its platform to gather the public health community behind a powerful theme: Climate Changes Health. Throughout my time at the conference, I was struck by how seamlessly professionals from a vast array of sub-disciplines were able to relate their work to climate change and to demonstrate the need for bold and immediate action to combat this critical threat to population health.

A memorable session I attended at APHA addressed the alarming and disproportionate threat that climate change poses to the health of women and girls.  Early evidence of climate change’s impact on female populations in the US suggests that increased exposures to air pollution, extreme heat, droughts, stagnant waters, and particulate matter from wildfires are associated with increased incidence of asthma, coccidioidomycosis, chronic stress, preterm birth, low birthweight, stillbirth, Zika infection, birth defects, infant death, GI infection, lung cancer, other respiratory problems, heart disease, and hypertension.  Furthermore, these impacts are compounded by the potential indirect effects of climate change, such as increased economic vulnerability and/or displacement and increased vulnerability to gendered violence, sex trafficking, and other forms of exploitation.  One presenter was a former obstetrician-gynecologist who left his practice after 26 years to focus full-time on climate change advocacy.  He described climate change as a “medical emergency” and explained that he focused his research solely on evidence within the US in an attempt to drive home the point that climate change must be taken seriously, here and now.

Throughout my time at APHA, a sobering reminder pronounced in the opening session echoed in my mind:  We are the first generation that will see the devastating impacts of climate change, and the last that will be able to do anything about it.  It was illuminating to see how many issues are fundamentally tied to climate change and motivating to witness the American public health community collectively commit to facing this immense threat head-on.  I hope that as we return to our respective work on the issues we care most about individually, that we keep this big-picture message in mind and do everything in our collective power to forcefully push for climate action now, before it is too late.

Grace Saul is a second-year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in International Development Studies from McGill University and has previously worked in research, monitoring & evaluation, and non-profit program development in Canada, the US, and Senegal.  Her interests include women’s health, sexual and reproductive health and justice, immigrant and refugee health, social norms theory, and health equity.  She loves mountains, dogs, cities, maps, languages, and the arts.

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December 1, 2017 at 9:15 am Leave a comment

Do it because you love it

Many of our students attended this year’s meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), held in Atlanta, November 4 – 8. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Raven Cedeno, BS

Kenya Smith, Grace Saul, Shokufeh Ramirez, and Raven Cedeno at the APHA Tulane meetup

In preparation for APHA, I decided to focus my energies on two programs: Maternal and Child Health and Population, Reproductive and Sexual Health.  Although separate topics, the two go hand and hand requiring a life course perspective to achieve optimal health.  My background in food and nutrition sparked my interest in breastfeeding and ultimately women’s health as the base for infinite possibilities.  I believe there will be direct benefits to the field of maternal and child health through the framing of successful contraceptive and sexual health programs.

One of the most memorable sessions I attended was conducted by Diana Cassar.  She is an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) interested in the influence of adolescent and pre-pregnancy weight and milk supply.  The findings showed how important body image and obesity is to initiating and sustaining breastfeeding.  Women that recalled being overweight or obese during adolescence were more likely to begin supplementing breastmilk with formula during the first five days of breastfeeding because of perceived low milk supply.  Diana reinforced the importance of the life course perspective and the need for healthy women before healthy pregnancies.

As a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) myself, moving forward I hope to expand this research to include women of color and continue to improve breastfeeding rates across the country.  Attending APHA reassured me that I am on the right path.  Progress seems slow at times but the amount of time and effort each researcher and person in attendance at APHA is putting into their craft outweighs the possibility of the impossible.  I look forward to returning to APHA in the future to see the work of my peers and other leaders in public health continuing to fight for the well-being and acknowledgement of all people.

Raven Cedeno is a first year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health.  Prior to attending Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, she completed her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics at New York University.  Her research interest includes women of child bearing age and family planning techniques.

November 30, 2017 at 9:55 am Leave a comment

No reason to be nervous

Many of our students attended this year’s meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), held in Atlanta, November 4 – 8. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Kenya Smith, BS

CEMCH Scholars – Temi Akintemehin, Raven Cedeno, Kenya Smith, Bejan Foretia, Tylar Wiliiams, Alumna Courtney Drayton, and Joia Crear-Perry of the Black Mamas Matter Alliance

In the days leading up to APHA, I had a mix of emotions. I was excited to travel to Atlanta and attend the vast variety of seminars.  But at the same time, I was nervous. I was nervous that my unpolished networking skills would leave me without any connections and that would leave more unsure of what I wanted to do in my future career.  I shouldn’t have worried. I met a lot of interesting people who worked in Maternal Child Health.  One, introduced to me at the Tulane APHA meetup, was someone who works in sexual health for women of color, which intersects with my career interest of reproductive health.  Currently, she is working on social media campaigns to raise awareness for gender-equality policy issues. I was so happy that I was set up on this “blind date,” because she offered me practicum work if I wanted to travel to New York.

Another awesome experience I had at APHA was the oral presentation called Black Mamas Matter: Maternal deaths a human rights crisis. This presentation stressed the importance of reproductive justice, which is the human right to safe and respectful maternal health care.  This presentation was given by founding members of the Black Mama’s Matter Alliance (BBMA) whose main goal is to “envision a world where Black mamas have the rights, respect, and resources to thrive before, during, and after pregnancy.”   This was by far my favorite presentation as it indicated the importance of black mothers and to raise awareness of the lack of advocacy there is for them. I think it is extremely important that BBMA exists, because black mothers have the highest mortality rate and are often an afterthought once their child is born.  Going to this presentation absolutely made me feel like I was in the right place and reaffirmed my passion for reproductive health.  By the end of my trip I realized, that I had no reason to be nervous.  Attending APHA was one of my most memorable and impactful experiences.

 

Kenya Smith is a first year MPH student and a scholar in the Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health at Tulane.  She received a bachelor degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her interests include reproductive health for women of color, maternal and infant health and breastfeeding advocacy.

November 29, 2017 at 9:40 am Leave a comment

Global Conflict: It’s Closer to Home Than We Think

Many of our students attended this year’s meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), held in Atlanta, November 4 – 8. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Bejanchong Foretia, BA

APHA’s theme this year was Climate Changes Health

APHA was once again a great experience to learn, network, and reflect on the many issues in the world and solutions to solve these issues. Climate change was the theme for this year’s meeting and it was amazing to see every section integrate this topic in such a way that everyone can understand the need for a global solution. I admit, though I know about climate change on a superficial level, I did not know much about it in relation to maternal and child health, infectious disease, population and sexual health, and overall global conflict. I found myself going to a lot more global health sessions than I intended, but each session brought me closer to some unknown issues, as well as well how climate change interacts with them all.

APHA introduced a few main points to me about climate change: it affects

  • immigration and displacement;
  • MCH, including nutrition and pregnancy;
  • sexual health including sex trafficking;

and can be the cause of war in and between nations. Of course, I understand the climate change pushes people to new homes in foreign places. However, I did not think about the strain that the host country must endure for the new immigrants, or the heavy toll of finding work in a new land with children for a young mother. And then there’s the new wave of vector-borne diseases like Zika virus because of the increase in mosquitoes, subsequently affecting our mothers and children. We may not think about drought causing increased need for labor by human trafficking, or increased child marriage to secure girls to food and water provisions in countries at war. And even war has much to do with the claim of natural resources that have quickly declined due to climate. These aspects may not seem like global conflict on the surface, but these are all issues that are connected internationally. They seem far off and should be of concern to the UN not the U.S. But in just the same, if not more ways, they affect the women and children here at home.

I learned that that the scope of my studies does not go deep enough to pinpoint the variety of ways these problems interconnect and circle around to each other. As a result, we end up with very narrow and linear interventions that may not be sustainable long-term. In this way, it helps me to realize the value of my MPH a little bit more as I go through course work that prioritizes global issues, multilevel thinking, and intersectionality.

Bejanchong Foretia is a second-year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. She graduated with a degree in psychology from Spelman College. She plans to graduate in May 2018. Her interests include infant health, reproductive health, racial equity, as well as global health. She also loves reading, dancing, and traveling to as many countries as she can.

 

November 28, 2017 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

The importance of community

Many of our students attended this year’s meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), held in Atlanta, November 4 – 8. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Faruq Sarumi, BSPH

Faruq Sarumi (far right) and some members of his community

The APHA Conference enlightened me on the importance of community in every sense of the word. Within the public health field, we are a community that communicates and collaborates across hundreds of cultures, universities, health systems, countries, and more. APHA made me realize how small the public health community can be at times. The need for collaborations on research, grants or policy within our field allows us to hold real important relationships, with the mission of creating a healthier environment and world.

During my time at the conference, I networked with public health workers from different backgrounds, each with skills to contribute to our community. I have kept in close contact with my former public health classmates at UIC and Columbia. It was an amazing experience to be in the same space with people who carried the same public health mission.  The conference created opportunities to socialize and network with renowned public health officials and researchers.  I am excited to say that I wish to one day become an integral part of this community, like every other member.

My favorite portion of the conference was the Black Feminism Theory roundtable discussions. Sister Song, a leading organization on gender equality, held roundtable discussions with various studies related to health disparities among women of color, and the application of black feminist theories on these social issues. During this session, I realized the invaluable contribution of public health on social justices issues. Public health allows us to shed light on social issues through scientific and humanitarian lenses combined.  I am looking forward to APHA every year from now on. I am thankful for this life changing experience and to be the newest addition to the public health community.

Faruq Sarumi is a first-year Global Maternal and Child Health student at Tulane University, in the Global and Community Health Behavior Department.  He plans on graduating in December 2018. Faruq is also a full-time health promotion specialist at the Tulane School of Medicine within the Pediatrics Adolescent Department.  His interests includes reproductive justice, adolescent sexual health, HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ community, infant mortality, maternal morbidity, and other social issues related to maternal and child health.  He loves to read, volunteers, and socialize during his free time.

November 27, 2017 at 9:42 am Leave a comment

Glimpse of Something More

Many of our students attended this year’s meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), held in Atlanta, November 4 – 8. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Temitope Akintimehin, BS

Temitope Akintehin, at the Tulane APHA booth

Going to the APHA Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, gave me a renewed perspective on public health. It is one thing to learn from a paper about the research people have done, but to be able to have the opportunity to speak to a researcher about their work in person is a whole other experience. This conference allowed me the chance to speak one-on-one with public health professionals in the field and network with people who were enthusiastic to connect me with peers who shared my interest. Despite being a student and inexperienced, the health professionals and doctors never made me feel like I did not belong. They welcomed my curiosity and they responded with great wisdom. I never felt intimidated to voice my opinion or ask for more clarification. The more I interacted with people, the more confident I felt about my choice to pursue my MPH degree.

What I enjoyed most about the conference was the diversity. There were a variety of sessions and topics that covered just about everything about public health. That reminded me just how versatile the realm of public health could be and that it was ok for me to have multiple interests that overlapped. The more I attended sessions, asked questions, and contributed to conversations, the more I felt like I belonged. Seeing the way panelists responded to questions and comments was invigorating. I could see how passionate they were about their work and how confident they were with presenting their findings. I knew that I wanted to be like them one day and I was able to leave certain, now more than ever, that I was on the right path to get there.

Overall, I am happy that I got the chance to experience this type of conference at this time in my life. I was able to build a new network filled with dynamic individuals that want to make a difference in the world. I not only met inspirational individuals but was also able to make good friends with people who can provide advice and support. I am looking forward to whatever comes next for me.

“I don’t know what my future holds, but I do know who holds my future.” – Tim Tebow

Temitope Akintimehin received her Bachelor of Science degree in Healthcare Management from Towson University in 2014. She is currently a first-year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health.  She plans to graduate in May 2019. Her interests include maternal and infant health, health and racial disparities, global health, and community health.  She also enjoys watching foreign films, going to the beach, listening to live music and dancing.

November 22, 2017 at 11:47 am Leave a comment

Compounding vulnerabilities

Many of our students attended this year’s meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), held in Atlanta, November 4 – 8. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Rachel Shea, BSPH

Downtown Atlanta welcomed APHA attendees with banners

Through Tulane CEMCH I was able to attend my first APHA conference in Atlanta, Georgia. While we had discussed prior to going the basic format of the conference, I was not sure what to expect for my personal experience at this conference. Overall I enjoyed APHA and look forward to attending future conferences.

I primarily focused on the maternal and child health oral and poster presentations. My favorite was a town hall titled Substance Abuse and Opioids: The Maternal and Child Perspective. The opioid epidemic in the United States is a public health crisis and must be addressed across all fields in public health. In particular, women may be vulnerable to legal prosecution if they struggle with addiction and become pregnant. A lawyer from Advocates for Pregnant Women spoke about the need for legal and medical advocacy for women in this position. In many cases the opioid use in question was doctor prescribed; they were also prescribed methadone for during the pregnancy if they cannot detox on their own. In some states, if the infant is born with NAS the mother may be arrested for “harming the child” even if the methadone use was doctor prescribed. Ironically, in the majority of these states there were laws in place which make it difficult to access abortion services, putting mothers in an unbelievably difficult position.  With such poor maternal mortality and infant mortality rates in the United States, we must acknowledge any way we can work to improve the health of mothers and children and advocate for our vulnerable populations. This presentation gave me a unique perspective on this issue.

I also enjoyed working at the Tulane alumni booth as I got to connect with alumni and current students with similar interests. A few recommended organizations to connect with for future internships and jobs, which I appreciated.

Rachel Shea is a first year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. She plans to graduate in May 2019. Her interests include sexual health, HIV/AIDS, mental health and substance abuse.  She also loves dogs, music, and living in New Orleans.

 

November 21, 2017 at 8:46 am Leave a comment

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