More than 300 college students at the 2012 GlobeMed Global Health Summit this weekend learned there are two critical partners needed to improve women’s health: the government and men.
“The health of women is extremely important to health and well-being of the family and the local community,” said Pamela Barnes, the CEO of EngenderHealth and a keynote speaker at the second day of GlobeMed’s annual conference Friday. The event took place in Alice Millar Chapel.
This year’s theme was “Walking Together, Walking Far: Partnership as a Framework for Meaningful Action.” Jill Shah, GlobeMed’s director of communications, said the theme celebrates GlobeMed’s emphasis on partnership.
Each GlobeMed college chapter partners with a grassroots organization from a community around the world.
The chapter works with the local organization to assess the community’s needs, then the chapter collects money to fund these needs.
GlobeMed’s NU chapter works with the HOPE Center in Ho, Ghana.
Barnes and Pamela Angwech, co-founder and executive director of Gulu Women’s Economic Development and Globalization, discussed women’s health in developing countries, focusing on countries in Africa.
Barnes said she has collaborated with a group in Tanzania called Men as Partners to motivate men to become involved in decisions regarding family planning and reproductive health.
Barnes said African men are rarely involved in family planning and maternal health decisions, but she witnessed some improvement on a recent trip to Africa.
Barnes and Angwech also spoke of men and their pivotal role in women’s health.
Angwech said it is common in Africa for a woman to need to ask her husband for permission to seek medical care.
“If man says no, you stay (home),” Angwech said.
Angwech, a Ugandan citizen on her first trip to the United States, said Uganda has all the policies in place to improve women’s health, but the policies aren’t implemented.
“You cannot change anything without politics,” she said. “You cannot change anything without the right leader to promote health.”
Aubrey Winkie, a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who attended the event, agreed with Barnes and Angwech.
“They both had interesting points,” she said. “We need the help of the government and men to improve women’s health in Africa and the U.S.”
This year’s summit featured screenings of documentaries like “They Go to Die” and “The Interrupters.”
Students could also particpate in small group workshops, where they reflected on the Summit’s activities and discussed the definitions of partnerships.
Examples of collaborations and global health case studies were also presented to those who attended the Summit.
The Summit served as a chance to celebrate GlobeMed’s accomplishments. GlobeMed was founded in 2007 by a group of NU undergraduates who had gathered funds for a clinic in Ghana.
They visited the clinic, but were surprised to find that it was completely empty. Their contacts in Ghana informed them that the money was used for more pressing needs than health care.
“Everything wrong with development was embodied by the emptiness of the clinic,” Shah said.
Shah, a Weinberg junior, said those NU students had not fully understood the needs of Africans. As a result of this discovery, GlobeMed began to form partnerships with local community organizations in developing countries to determine the best ways to raise money for the community’s most dire needs, Shah said.
GlobeMed has come a long way since its inception five years ago, said Maya Cohen, GlobeMed’s executive director. The organization is now represented on 50 college campuses in the United States.
Cohen, a graduate of Barnard College, said GlobeMed has raised more than $615,000 to fund more than 200 projects in 21 countries on four continents.
The Summit also featured lectures by Melissa Covelli, the senior program officer of the Polio Strategy in Global Health for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Dr. Gary Slutkin, the executive director of CeaseFire, a nonprofit organization that uses disease control methods to prevent the spread of violence.
“The Summit has been so inspiring,” said Apoorva Aekka, a sophomore at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
“It’s nice to see students actually doing something and changing the world.”