UC is known for being an international institution with global collaborations and influence.
GlobeMed, a student group overseen by Jason Blackard, PhD, associate professor in the division of digestive diseases, combines undergraduate education from the main campus with the medical campus mission to help underserved populations specifically by touching the lives of people living in rural communities on the Thai-Myanmar border.
In this Q&A, Julia Tasset, a third-year undergraduate student who, along with Stephanie Lux, a junior in the UC College of Nursing's Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, started GlobeMed, talks about the purpose and impact of the group.
What is your background?
"I am studying biology and Spanish with the intention to earn a Masters of Public Health degree and attend medical school after graduation. (Stephanie and I) were both drawn to health care by its tremendous ability to improve a person's quality of life. As we say in GlobeMed, we believe health is a human right and a matter of social justice.”
What is GlobeMed, and how did it begin? In what kinds of activities have or will you participate as part of the GlobeMed group?
"GlobeMed is a national network of college campuses paired one-to-one with grassroots health care organizations around the world. GlobeMed's mission is to ‘strengthen the movement for global health equity by empowering students and communities to work together to improve the health of people living in poverty around the world.’ There are currently 50 chapters, of which University of Cincinnati is one. We are partnered with Social Action for Women, or SAW, a community based organization in Mae Sot, Thailand. They provide health care and other support services to Myanmar migrant workers who are living in Western Thailand.
"On campus, we have an executive board made up of 12 members and staff, with 35 members, made up of undergraduate students. Our mission has three parts: to support SAW through fundraising campaigns, to raise awareness of global health issues in our campus community and to complete GROW (GrassRoots Onsite Work) Internships every year to Mae Sot in order to foster understanding between our groups and evaluate the efficacy of our partnership.
"We have held several on- and off-campus fundraising events in the past two years—we were founded in the 2011 school year—like letter writing campaigns and even a date auction. To date, our chapter has raised close to $20,000 to support our health education project with SAW. Additionally, we have recognized World AIDS Day and World Day of Social Justice by initiating various activities on campus. This December, six of our chapter members completed a three week long internship in Mae Sot with SAW. Our trip was generously supported though a collaboration with the University Honors Program and UC International. Four more chapter members will complete our second internship this coming May.
"Our first GROW internship just ended in January and went very well. The next group of four students is scheduled to depart for Mae Sot immediately after spring semester. The goal of the trips is to train the next group of leaders in the needs of migrant workers and to design the next school year's health project.
"We're also looking forward to celebrating World Day of Social Justice, being held Feb. 20, 2013, on campus in coordination with the other chapters around the country. Additionally, every spring the GlobeMed National Office holds the annual Global Health Summit in Evanston, Ill. We will send undergraduate members of our group to this meeting of global health students and experts from across the world.”
How specifically are you influencing health care in these other parts of the world?
"The health care project we designed with SAW is called the Community Health Outreach Program, or CHOP. Every year, the co-presidents work with our project coordinator from SAW to design a project that is feasible for us to fund and pertinent to the needs of the population with which SAW works. CHOP Phase I, currently being implemented, gathers 30 to 40 Myanmar migrants from 10 rural target communities and brings them to a health care workshop, led by SAW's staff physician, Dr. Htin Zaw. During this day-long lesson, the migrants are taught about reproductive health, communicable disease and occupational safety. They are also given an opportunity to ask questions about health concerns they see as pressing in their communities. Ten workshops will be held, with metrics such as names, ages, genders of participants, topics addressed, questions asked and number of birth control products distributed being recorded in order to monitor and evaluate the project. CHOP Phase II will eventually begin, building on the initial workshops by identifying two Peer Educators (PEs) from each community that display particular interest and ability to understand and communicate about health topics. CHOP II will train these PEs in common health issues and enable them to conduct monthly workshops in their own communities. SAW will then follow up with the PEs to monitor the content and efficacy of these ongoing trainings.”
What is your overall thought about being involved with GlobeMed?
"There is no doubt in my mind that leading GlobeMed has been the single most influential experience of my undergraduate experience.”
GlobeMed at UC is a registered undergraduate student organization with the Student Activities Board. The group is open to all university members who have a desire to learn about global health and contribute to their efforts. For more information or to contact Tasset or another member of the group, email firstname.lastname@example.org. See their 2011-2012 annual report.