Physician examines child, south King County
By Collin Tong for Crosscut
Seattle’s global health powerhouses turn their attention to south King County
A coalition of local and global health groups have banded together to bring the lessons they’ve learned in developing countries to south King County, where the health index is as bad as Nairobi.
The project is called Global-to-Local and is a partnership between Public Health – Seattle & King County, Swedish Health Services, HealthPoint and the Washington Global Health Alliance.
Morocco was the last place that Asma Bulale expected to spend her summer vacation when she started medical school. But several years ago, the 31-year-old former Somali medical student at the University of Washington decided to switch from cardiology to public health and become an AmeriCorps volunteer.
Last summer, Bulale began working with rural community-based health organizations in Morocco. A native of Mogadishu in northern Somalia, she visited health clinics in villages in dire need of basic health education. Eventually Bulale and her fellow volunteers set up clinics to do screenings for general health. That experience proved to be life changing.
Now Bulale is a community health promoter in another marginalized, low-income community where access to affordable health care is problematic: south King County.
At first glance, applying the lessons learned from developing nations in North Africa, Asia, or Central America to residents in Tukwila and SeaTac might seem a stretch. But Bulale has learned otherwise. Continue reading
Tuberculosis infects one out of every three people worldwide and kills nearly 2 million every year.
Two reports this week illustrate pretty clearly how this global health threat is also especially, persistently local.
The World Health Organization issued its annual report, which found that overall the incidence of TB had declined by 35 percent since 1990.
But 1.7 million still die every year due to lack of treatment and the rise of drug-resistant TB means recent progress remains fragile, said WHO’s Mario Raviglione. The international community must step up its efforts in TB control, he said.
“At this pace, it will take millennia to get rid of TB,” Raviglione said.
In Seattle-King County, public health officials report that locally the number of TB cases remains high — about twice the national average. A new report on TB here said the number of active cases had risen to 130 and an estimate 100,000 residents were infected.
Public health officials said 83 percent of King County’s cases were in foreign-born individuals. Of those treated for TB, 18 were resistant to at least one drug.
I wrote earlier about an initiative called “Global to Local” — a project that seeks to use global health strategies locally.
The idea is that we can improve the health of our own poor by making use of approaches developed in poor countries.
I also noted that this project, largely funded by a 5-year $1 million grant from Swedish Medical Center, comes even as we are cutting $30 million out of Seattle’s public health budget by eliminating maternity care services for the poor. Statewide, nearly $300 million is to be cut from the state’s social services budget.
Seattle writer Sally James pointed out more penny-wise-pound-foolishness. Sally flagged this op-ed written about the city looking to save money by cutting staff at libraries that serve the poor:
Cutting Libraries Cuts the Heart Out of the Communities the Need Them Most
The writer Justin Sundberg speaks of a Somali family he knows that has made extensive use of librarian help in boosting their kids educational abilities. Sundberg talks about the library crammed with young people, many seeking help and guidance from librarians.
He quotes an Eritrean youth: “Having the library without a librarian is like eating cereal without milk.”
As Sally writes:
“Global research has shown that educating mothers is one of the most effective ways to keep their children healthy. Meanwhile, it seems the G2L initiative with backing from Swedish medical center, might need to rescue the library. It would be the research-based, thinking globally, smart move.”
Global Health Local
Like any field, global health has its share of buzzwords, slogans and sound-bites.
The latest is “making global health local” as reported by my KPLU colleague Keith Seinfeld.
Sounds great, even though nobody really knows what it means.
But then, we can’t even agree on what global health means, so why should we worry about what we mean when we want to make it local? I can tell you why, but maybe later.
In the latest global-health-is-local move, Swedish Medical Center on Monday announced it would give $1 million in support of an initiative called “Global to Local” — which, in turn, has been further boiled down for better branding (and probably Tweeting) to “G2L.”
Potential Text or Tweet: Dude, R U G2L or L2G? Continue reading