Young African Leaders Inspired to Take Lessons in Global Public Health Back Home

A delegation of Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Fellows, representing 22 countries, visited The Task Force for Global Health on July 22 to learn about the organization’s work in Africa and better understand the role global public health plays in society.
YALI, which was launched in 2010 by President Barack Obama, seeks to equip the next generation of African leaders with the skills and connections needed to foster positive change in their countries.

The Task Force's Carla Johnson (left) discusses her work on trachoma elimination with Dr. Alemseged Woretaw (right), a technical advisor in Ethiopia's Ministry of Health and a YALI fellow

The Task Force’s Carla Johnson (left) discusses her work on trachoma elimination with Dr. Alemseged Woretaw (right), a technical advisor in Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health and a YALI fellow

Task Force Senior Business Analyst Juneka Rembert, MS, who helped organize the visit, said The Task Force and the YALI program share the common goal of building capacity in African countries. “The Task Force also wants to foster long-lasting relationships with leaders in countries where our global health work has a direct impact,” she said.

During their time at The Task Force, the young leaders learned about Task Force programs to eliminate neglected tropical diseases, increase access to vaccines, and strengthen health systems. The young leaders had opportunities to network with Task Force staff members and were encouraged to apply the lessons they learned at The Task Force to help improve public health in their countries.

Chaikhwa Lobatse, a registered nurse in Botswana, was inspired by The Task Force’s work to help countries improve their abilities to detect and respond to disease outbreaks.
“Today’s visit has taught be a lot about field epidemiology,” said Lobate. “My country doesn’t have a field epidemiology training program. I’m going to go to my Ministry of Health and advocate for an FETP.”

She added that she plans to stay connected with her new friends at The Task Force and continue collaborating on issues of global public health.

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CDC at 70: Seven Decades of Protecting America and The World

By Judy Monroe

Anniversaries offer a time to reflect on the past and look toward the future. This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) celebrated its 70th anniversary. As part of this commemoration (7 Decades of Firsts), former CDC directors gathered with staff and retirees to reflect on the agency’ past successes and challenges while considering CDC’s next phase in protecting Americans health, safety and security. Continue reading

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Yemen: ‘It was raining rockets’

By Holly Frew, Emergency Communications Manager at CARE

Holly Frew, Emergency Communications Manager at CARE

Holly Frew, Emergency Communications Manager at CARE

“It was 7 a.m. and I was having breakfast with my mother-in law and four of my daughters,” said Hammama, recounting what began as a seemingly ordinary day in Yemen.

Only things are not ordinary in Yemen, and on that day, extraordinary events changed Hammama’s life forever.

“We heard the aircraft hovering low overhead and airstrikes in the surrounding area, but that was a sound we had gotten used to. We didn’t think we would be a target. Then all of a sudden, we felt a violent explosion as a bomb hit part of our home. The entire house shook. Shattered glass sliced the leg of my 7-year-old daughter and the scalp of my teenage daughter. My husband, son and 10-year-old daughter were asleep in another room where the airstrike hit directly. They must have died instantly.

“We fled the house with only the clothes on our backs. It was raining rockets, but we continued to run. We ran with my injured daughters until we reached a hospital where we stayed for several days and now we are here in Amran, away from our village and our home. My husband was the sole provider for our family. Now we have nothing,” said Hammama, a war widow, tears flowing from her eyes.

This is a common story for families from Sa’dah, a district in Yemen near the Saudi Arabian border that over the past year has become a frontline for airstrikes and ground-fighting. As CARE’s emergency communications manager, I recently spent three weeks in the country collecting such horror stories.

Of my recent deployments – I went to Nepal after the earthquake last year, to South Sudan, and I’ve been to the Middle East three times in the last year to get an update on CARE’s work with Syrian refugees there – Yemen hit me hardest. The country now has some of the largest humanitarian needs in the world. Just a year since this conflict escalated, 21.2 million people– 82% of the population– are in need of some sort of assistance.

“We fled the house with only the clothes on our backs. It was raining rockets, but we continued to run. We ran with my injured daughters until we reached a hospital where we stayed for several days and now we are here in Amran, away from our village and our home. My husband was the sole provider for our family. Now we have nothing,” said Hammama, a war widow, tears flowing from her eyes. Credit:CARE

“We fled the house with only the clothes on our backs. It was raining rockets, but we continued to run. We ran with my injured daughters until we reached a hospital where we stayed for several days and now we are here in Amran, away from our village and our home. My husband was the sole provider for our family. Now we have nothing,” said Hammama, a war widow, tears flowing from her eyes.
Credit:CARE

Many families from Sa’dah have fled violence several times, depleting their life savings in a sometimes empty search for safety. People have lost their homes, their family members and their livelihoods. And now they are dependent on aid.

“We fled with much of our village to a nearby cave in the mountain for safety,” said Houda, who also is from Sa’dah. “Our home was destroyed, and the violence was so heavy we could only leave the cave to cook, so we decided to sell our goats to have enough money to get to a safer place. It cost 50,000 Yemeni rial (US$200) to reach Sana’a, where we stayed in a school for four months with other displaced families.”

Houda was pregnant when she fled. During the 150-mile journey to Sana’a, she began to bleed. With no access to medical care, she lost her baby.

In spite of such unspeakable pain and loss, people like Hammama and Houda kindle hope. They patch together the pieces of their lives the war has not ripped from them. And they are getting help to survive during this impossible time.

CARE, for example, offers emergency cash assistance to families like Hammama’s and Houda’s so that they can buy food and pay rent for the temporary homes they have found.

“I’ve cried so many tears,” said Houda. “Sometimes I look at my children and I just cry. But I find my hope in God and I must go on for them. I just hope the war will finally stop. Life will be ok if the war stops.”

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Ebola: Two Years Later

by Katie Pace, MAP International 

Katie Pace is the Marketing & Communications Officer at MAP International and is based in Atlanta. Below she tells us about their experiences in the field this week in Ghana and what inspires them to continue their work.

Katie Pace is the Marketing & Communications Officer at MAP International

Two years ago, as Americans were celebrating our independence with hotdogs and fireworks, West Africa was nearing the peak of the most deadly Ebola outbreak the world has ever faced.

That may seem like a long time ago, but to those that lived through the outbreak, every day is still a fearful step forward that another outbreak is just beyond the horizon. Continue reading

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Electronic Health Records Can Help Strengthen Public Health Response to Disease Outbreaks

By Claire Loe, PhD, MPH, Senior Informatics Analyst
Public Health Informatics Institute, The Task Force for Global Health

The key to effective public health response is capturing timely, accurate and complete data. Quality data inform public health efforts across the spectrum of prevention: from interventions to protect individuals, to community awareness and policy development. Continue reading

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Take Three Actions Now to Zap Zika and Prevent Birth Defects

By Dr. Judy Monroe

“When an earthquake hits, we understand the need to respond,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at a recent National Press Club appearance. “Now, imagine if you had the power to stop an earthquake. We, together, using the tools of public health, have the power to stop the health equivalent of many earthquakes that happen.” Continue reading

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Girls’ Education: The Not-So Secret Weapon to Overcoming Poverty & Injustice

By Joyce Adolwa, CARE’s director of girls’ empowerment

The first-ever United State of Women Summit is being held in Washington, DC this week from June 13-15. Some of the world’s most recognized women – First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey to name a few – will gather to explore and address the issues that keep women and girls on the sidelines of social justice, or rather, on the front lines of inequity and marginalization. Continue reading

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The Modern Mission Trip

By Steve Stirling, President & CEO MAP International

This summer, thousands of Americans will use their hard-earned vacation days to visit some of the neediest countries in the world. They will join volunteers from their church, school, hospital or community organization to venture out on a “mission trip.” Continue reading

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Mobile Technology is Helping to End a Debilitating Infection that Affects the World’s Poor

By Dave Ross, ScD, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Task Force for Global Health

Neglected tropical diseases affect 1.7 billion people worldwide, primarily the world’s poor. Left untreated, these infections can lead to blindness and other debilitating and disfiguring conditions such as elephantiasis. Continue reading

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Fighting Zika, Empowering Pregnant Women

ZikaPregnancy

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said recently that nothing about fighting the Zika virus is going to be easy or quick. Controlling the Aedes species mosquito is hard, and although we’re learning a lot quickly, there is still a lot we don’t know. Clearly, there is an urgent need to both learn more and do more—and all of us have a role to play. Continue reading

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