University professor discusses state of world public health

The University FIMRC chapter hosted Dr. Holtan’s talk on Tuesday.

Katherine Lymn

Horror health stories of Madagascar and Cambodia sprinkled Dr. Neal HoltanâÄôs talk about world public health to a small group of University of Minnesota students Tuesday. Holtan used his voyage from growing up in small-town Iowa to working in the appalling standards of Third World health work as a framework to illustrate the importance of public health. The University chapter of the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children hosted Holtan, who currently serves as medical director for the Minnesota Institute of Public Health. FIMRC vice president and political science sophomore Tyler Dirks said the student group works to raise money for FIMRC clinics in Costa Rica and other countries. While Holtan said his move from Iowa hospitals to Minneapolis emergency rooms seemed drastic, his work in the Third World hospitals was incomparable. Children in hospitals in Cambodia played with used bandages, and a government-sponsored midwife in Madagascar used rusty razors to cut umbilical cords off newborns, Holtan recalled. âÄúIt would just hit you in the face,âÄù he said of the public health conditions heâÄôd seen. Students were shocked at these descriptions and showed interest in the type of work Holtan does. Perhaps the most interested student was the one with the least experience in health education. Andy Knapp, a chemical engineering student, said he found the discussion fascinating. âÄúIt was awesome,âÄù he said, adding that he wasnâÄôt even aware this health field existed.