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by laram — last modified Oct 22, 2012 10:37 AM

A Global Health Discussion Series

The curriculum in Global Studies and the UNC Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases was pleased to build on a successful Fall 2011 Heels in the Field program with Spring 2012’s Global Health Discussion Series. The speaker series sought to explore the critical issues, controversies and innovative solutions in global health by inviting UNC experts to discuss their research at brown-bag lunches over the course of the semester. We were thrilled by the conversations among undergraduates, graduates and faculty and the connections participants made.

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Poverty And HIV Policies

with Dr. Sudhanshu Handa and Dr. Audrey Pettifor

The first speakers of the monthly series, Dr. Sudhanshu Handa, Ph.D. and Dr. Audrey Pettifor, MPH, Ph.D, discussed the impact of poverty prevention policies such as cash transfers on the prevention of HIV and related risky behavior on February 23rd. An energetic conversation emerged over the ethics of cash transfers, and the feasibility of such systems to impact HIV prevalence.


Sudhanshu “Ashu” Handa is a Professor and Chair of Public Policy at UNC.  Ashu’s research focuses on household economic and demographic behavior in developing countries. He has investigated optimal designs for poverty and social programs across the globe, including Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Malawi and South Africa. His book Social Protection for Africa’s Children, co-edited with Stephen Devereux and Doug Webb, presents a theoretical framework for thinking about this issue. Prior to arriving at UNC, Ashu spent almost two years based in Nairobi, Kenya working for UNICEF on Social and Economic Policy in Eastern and Southern Africa. While with UNICEF, he co-authored the organization’s regional strategy on social protection.


Audrey Pettifor an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at UNC. She has conducted HIV prevention research in South Africa since 1996, with a particular focus on social and behavioral factors.  Since joining UNC in 2005, she has expanded her research to other sub-Saharan countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar and Malawi. Her research concentrates on HIV prevention in young women, but she has also studied HIV prevention interventions for couples, positive preventions and acute HIV infection in the region. Dr Pettifor is currently PI of an RCT examining the impact of cash transfers paid to young women to stay in school to reduce their risk of HIV acquisition in South Africa. She brings to the series great insight into new approaches to control the spread of HIV and AIDS.


Global Food Systems

with Dr. Alice Ammerman

Dr. Alice Ammerman spoke on March 23rd about the issues involved in creating sustainable food systems, and provided exciting new solutions to these problems. Drawing on research and activities she has conducted locally, Ammerman energized her audience to participate in not only environmentally friendly but also poverty-alleviating food production. Ammerman demonstrated how some of her community garden projects, which target at-risk areas, have prompted a marked improvement in the way her subjects think about nutrition, owing to a community ownership of the food source.

Alice_Ammerman Alice Ammerman is a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Director for the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Gillings School of Public Health at UNC. Her research includes the design and testing of innovative clinical and community-based nutrition and physical activity intervention approaches for chronic disease risk reduction in primarily low income and minority populations. She also focuses on school nutrition policy associated with childhood obesity, sustainable agriculture as it relates to improved nutrition, and social entrepreneurship as a sustainable approach to addressing public health concerns. Dr. Ammerman received her MPH and DrPH from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Cancer And Global Health

with Dr. Carol Shores


The series concluded with Dr. Carol Shores, MD, PhD, FACS discussing the global health fight against cancer on April 13th. Dr. Shores presented a fascinating talk that touched on the difficulties of implementing cancer treatment in developing countries. Along with issues of costly equipment and instable access to power or a safe working environment, Dr. Shores highlighted the widening gap in education between Western trained doctors and their counterparts. Dr. Shores investigated the implications of this divide, suggesting that certain treatments are not possible in developing nations owing to a lack of personnel skilled at providing these services. She also argued that more developed nations have lost valuable knowledge in our reliance on costly drugs and technology, impacting both the price of healthcare and the ability of our doctors to meaningfully practice elsewhere. Dr. Shores finally proposed further exchanges between medical universities worldwide to ensure that medical professionals have the broadest base of knowledge possible.

Dr Shores is an Associate Professor in the UNC Department of Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery, division of Head & Neck Surgery. Her clinical expertise is in the surgical care of patients with benign and malignant head and neck cancers. Dr. Shores has also been working with the UNC Infectious Diseases and the UNC Malawi Project since 2006 on a variety of cancer related research projects.  She has spear headed studies on Burkitt lymphoma at Kamuzu Central Hospital and established a cancer database. Dr Shores is also working on research in the etiology of esophageal cancer, surprisingly common in Malawi.