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The curriculum in Global Studies partnered with the UNC Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases to bring the Carolina community a semester-long discussion exploring the critical issues, current controversies and innovative solutions in global health research by UNC faculty. In the brown-bag lunch-time program, experts in tuberculosis control, water hygiene and sanitation, and dentistry opened a dialogue between students, faculty and healthcare professionals on the possibilities for engaging local and international health challenges.

“The Heels in the Field series has been a great opportunity to learn about the amazing work of Carolina colleagues and to meet some of the diverse communities on campus that are engaged in global health issues,” Dr. Erica Johnson, instructor of the global studies class on comparative healthcare systems, said.

“Turning The Tide On The Global Problem Of Tuberculosis” With Dr. Annelies Van Rie


van rieOn February 25th, Heels in the Field launched with Dr. Annelies Van Rie, MD, PHD, who discussed critical trends in the epidemiology of tuberculosis (TB) and new approaches to controlling the disease in high TB/HIV risk areas.

Dr. Van Rie, an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at UNC, explained how TB prevalence and mortality rates increase dramatically among those infected with HIV. From research she’d conducted in South Africa, she showed the audience, however, how the disease can be controlled effectively for many years with the right drugs.

Unfortunately, Van Rie was quick to point out that access to these drugs is limited. While they are readily available in clinics, there is such a cultural stigma of being tested for disease, most individuals go untreated. Of those, who do seek care early on, many never return to clinics to receive their diagnosis and medication.

Van Rie has devised a program to tackle the issue of patients unwilling to return to clinics to find out their test results. In recent years, the military has developed a machine that can identify anthrax within hours. The machine has since been found to be effective at testing for certain strains of TB as well. Van Rie began a program that placed these machines in community health clinics and trained the nurses in their operation so that individuals seeking care could receive an almost immediate diagnosis and begin receiving treatment at once.

The results of her program have been staggering. Rates of treatment have significantly increased since Van Rie’s study began. While statistics for the global epidemic of TB might be bleak, Van Rie is optimistic about our ability to control the disease.

Dr. Van Rie’s research focuses on community-based control of tuberculosis and HIV. An active member of the Stop TB Department of the World Health Organization and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, her work has highlighted the public health importance of the disease in high burden settings. Dr. Van Rie has studied extensively the role of community transmission of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and the impact of primary care clinic based integrated tuberculosis and HIV care.

“Water For Life” With Dr. Jamie Bartram

bartramJamie Bartram, Ph.D., is the Director of the Water Institute at UNC, which brings together individuals and institutions from diverse disciplines and sectors and empower them to work together to solve the most critical global issues in water and health.

He spoke on March 18th about some of the more underreported issues in the field of sanitation and hygiene. In a lively discussion, Bartram stressed how one of the largest problems facing impoverished communities is a lack of access to safe water at the home. He emphasized how individuals forced to seek water lose productive hours and need to conserve the resource by not performing many essential cleaning acts. Of course, water is not the only option for hygiene. Bartram discussed alternatives he and his team have tried to educate communities to use when water is unavailable.

Perhaps the most exciting part of his talk, however, was what we can do to use this precious resource responsibly. Bartram highlighted how water is wasted on a daily basis. After all, why use clean water that has undergone complex and expensive treatment to flush away waste? In fact, why use water at all? And why pump water to the fifty-first floor of a building, when gravity will rid you of your waste quite effectively?

Bartram proposed innovative solutions to the modern overconsumption of water. He fascinated his audience with new ways to think about the water we take for granted—an increasingly valuable commodity.

Bartram’s research interests focus on the connections between water (including sanitation and hygiene) and health – especially the links between science, policy and practice, in both developing and developed countries. They include technologies for urban sanitation renewal; management systems for drinking water safety and rural drinking-water supply; emerging issues (including water scarcity and climate change) and their impacts on system sustainability; health system activities on water and sanitation; and sector capacity issues such as monitoring, the costs and impacts of interventions and effective regulation and financing. These investigations have led him to work in over sixty countries across the globe. Prior to joining UNC, Dr. Bartram worked as a coordinator for the World Health Organization and as the Chair for United Nations Water.

“Global Dentistry” With Dr. Rick Mumford

mumfordRick Mumford, D.M.D., M.P.H. is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Dental Ecology at the UNC School of Dentistry. His chief appointment is as Director of the Dentistry in Service to Communities (DISC) Program. DISC manages extramural clinical and research rotations for students of the school of dentistry, not only in North Carolina but, nationally and internationally.

Mumford explained for audiences on April 15th how UNC dental students are partnering with programs around the world to gain experience in global dentistry. In recent years, students, supervised by faculty advisers, have gained first-hand knowledge of the global challenges in accessing oral health care within the cultural settings such as Malawi, Honduras, Mexico, Moldova and Nepal. The conversations that have arisen from these intensive programs have continued through school-to-school exchange agreements with Brazil, Moldova and Singapore, through which faculty, staff and students have been able to travel abroad and deepen the dialogue on emerging global issues of dental health.

Having been a member of the NC Army National Guard since 1988, Dr. Mumford was on active duty and deployed to Iraq with a combat medical unit, serving as Brigade Dental Surgeon and Triage Officer in 2003 and 2004. Upon his return, Dr. Mumford served as Senior Assistant to the State Health Director, focusing on health disparities, from 2005 to 2008.

Heels in the Field, a global health discussion series, brought leaders of medicine to explore the complexities involved in improving global health with the community. This fall, the series continued with Dr. Martha Carlough on Sept 22nd speaking on maternal and child health care, Dr. Audrey Pettifor on Oct 28th discussing prevention interventions for HIV/AIDS, and Dr. Andres Villaveces on global injury prevention on on November 11th.