Forum addresses

Sean Madigan

Dr. Barry Levy asked members of the University and Twin Cities health care organizations to address global health issues and to start here in Minnesota.
More than 150 students, faculty members and staff members from the University’s Medical School, School of Public Health and the Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs convened for the 1999 Global Health Forum on Saturday at the Humphrey Center.
Levy is the former president of the American Public Health Association. He served as the director of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War when the organization won the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Student’s International Health Committee designed the forum, of which Levy was the keynote speaker, to address public health issues on local, national and international levels.
Forum participants chose to attend one of three presentation workshops. At each, physicians, researchers and community members delivered presentations on topics ranging from Asian and African perspectives on health to global trends in infectious diseases. After each presentation, presenters invited participants to offer their own perspectives.
“It’s a forum — a time for people to share ideas — not just listen to a series of lectures,” said Margo Rowe, a graduate student in public health and forum co-chairwoman.
Although many of the global health issues plague populations in foreign nations, Levy said similar problems also exist in the United States.
“You don’t need to serve in a refugee camp to get involved,” Levy said, advocating getting involved in the Twin Cities.
“The Twin Cites is one of the hot spots for people who do this type of work,” said Kristine Olson, the health forum’s co-chairwoman. Pushes for awareness in global health issues have recently surfaced at universities across the country. But the rich diversity of ethnic populations and number of health resource organizations in the Twin Cities allows the University to be a world leader in global health research, Olson explained.
“It’s really important to provide awareness of these issues; how they impact our curriculum and explain cultural differences.” said Dr. Greg Vercellotti, associate dean of the Medical School.
Nasim Sabery, a first-year medical student became interested in the international student health group after returning from health care work in Honduras. Eventually, Sabery hopes to return to Honduras to open a clinic.
Jeanette Lager, also a first-year medical student, said events like the health forum will better prepare her for work in Native American health care.
“Learning about other cultures helps (physicians) to better treat their patients,” Lager said.
Saturday’s event was the first global health forum in more than 10 years, and organizers hope to make it an annual event.