Neurosurgery in the Amazon Rainforest

A man from the Amazon rainforest holds a stethoscope to Dr. Eric Jennings Simoes chest.

Providing Voice and Care for Newly-Contacted Communities

Dr. Erik L. Jennings Simões is a neurosurgeon who works deep in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. He founded the first public service neurosurgery unit in the interior of the Brailizian Amazon and became a private pilot to reach it.

He will share both his personal experiences in the rainforest as well as the ethical, cultural, logistical and other aspects of providing health care to recently-contacted populations.

For more than 18 years, Jennings Simões has operated on patients with specific neurological diseases contracted in the forest, such as intracranial hematoma caused by snake bites, head trauma from falling hedgehog nuts and accidents involving encounters with trees and wildlife. Along with frequent visits to the interior, he was appointed health coordinator of the Zoé people, an indigenous recently-contacted tribe.

Jennings Simões divides his time between the neurological service of the municipal hospital of the city of Santarém and a small hospital in the middle of the forest, under his direction, where he cares for the indigenous Zoé people. He often uses his own single-engine airplane to reach the site.

Some of Jennings Simões activities have been presented in public television documentaries. Others include investigations into the forensic use of necrophagous fish from the Amazon.

Jennings Simões is also an environmental activist and defender of the rights and culture of indigenous peoples. He is currently a consultant to the Ministry of Health for health matters involving isolated indigenous peoples of recent contact. This governmental ministry advocates for cultural, environmental and social preservation as the major provider of health care for these peoples. In addition, he coordinates the medical residency program in neurosurgery at the State University of Pará.

Erik Jennings Simoes Seminar Flier

May 24, 2018

Young African Leaders Speak Out:

Three 2017 YALI fellows stand together with arms around each other's backs.

Preventing Disease, Improving Care, Forging New Solutions for Health

Nine of the 25 Mandela Washington Fellows at the UW-Madison this summer are deeply involved in ensuring health for their countries and communities. Physicians, nurses, community outreach workers and an occupational therapist, they will share their passion to provide health for all, and the innovative ways they are reaching their goals, in a series of three YALI Global Health Seminars: July 10, 17 and 24 from 5 to 6 p.m. in Room 1309 at the Health Sciences Learning Center, 750 Highland Ave. (The HSLC is easily accessible via the #80 bus.)

The evenings will explore a series of topics:

  • July 10: Improving access to care
  • July 17: Preventing disease
  • July 24: Forging new solutions for health

Watch this page for more details about the YALI Global Health Tuesdays.

For the third year in a row, the UW-Madison will host 25 Mandela Washington Fellows  who are part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. The initiative was launched in 2010 to support young Africans as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa.

The fellows visiting Madison aspire to work in all levels of government, regional or international organizations, or other publicly minded groups and think tanks. During their month-long stay, they will learn from Wisconsin’s scholars and professionals and visit government entities, non-profit organizations and businesses across the state.

The fellows, who are 25- to 35-years-old, have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, community and countries.

The Global Health Institute works with the African Studies Program and other campus units to plan the curriculum for the fellows.

Watch this page for more details about the YALI Global Health Tuesdays.

YALI Tuesdays

UW-Madison celebrates International Women’s Day March 3

This post originally appeared at

By Käri Knutson

Women from all walks of life will be celebrated at the fifth annual International Women’s Day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Dejope Residence Hall. “Press for Progress” is the theme for this year’s event, being sponsored by AFRICaide and the UW–Madison 4W (Women & Wellbeing in Wisconsin & the World) Initiative.

The event has grown since it began in 2014 when a small group of 30 women gathered in the fellowship hall of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Madison. Since then, it has grown to attract between 100 and 200 attendees.

The purpose of the event is to bring together women of all backgrounds, nationalities, races, economic levels, ages, languages, religions, educational attainments, and all sexual orientations to celebrate International Women’s Day, which is observed globally March 8.

Emilie Songolo

“We want everyone who attends to come prepared to connect with other people, mostly women, who support women’s rights, gender equality, and who want to learn about and celebrate the work women are doing to advance these causes in our local community and around the world,” says Emilie Songolo, founder of AFRICaide, a grassroots non-profit organization based in Madison that strives to reduce abject poverty in Africa through rural development projects. “We hope everyone comes with the understanding that we are intentionally centering women’s voices, ideas, and experiences during the event.”

The event highlights and reflects on the work of those who have been engaged in improving conditions for women locally, nationally and internationally, It encourages others to think of ways for reducing gender inequality all over the world. Attendees are encouraged (though not required) to wear purple.

Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, community leader and long-time social justice advocate, and Josephine Kulea, a Kenyan women’s and girls’ rights campaigner who founded the Samburu Girls Foundation, are the featured speakers. The day will start with a global marketplace, cultural performances and a Women’s Walk Around the World.

“I am so proud to be co-sponsoring this event and to be part of this community of women,” says Lori DiPrete Brown, director of 4W. “When we consider the challenges that we are facing as a society, coming together on International Women’s Day to share our stories and draw on our collective strength is important, joyful, and very necessary.”

Tickets for the event are $7.50. For more information, visit

Journalism, Ethics & The Battle Over Health Care

Sponsored by the Center for Journalism Ethics.

Three experts will join faculty, staff and students with an interest in health policy or communication at the Overture Center:
•Sarah Kliff, health policy journalist at Vox
•David Wahlberg, health and medicine reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal
•J. Paul Kelleher, assistant professor of bioethics at UW-Madison

RSVP here.

2018 Global Health Symposium

The Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is pleased to welcome Professor Susan Paskewitz as the keynote speaker for the 14th annual Global Health Symposium: Advancing Health in Uncertain Times. The symposium begins at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 10, 2018.

Paskewitz is professor and chair of the Department of Entomology in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. She also is co-director of the Upper Midwestern Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a member of the GHI Advisory Committee. Her research focuses on medically important arthropods, including ticks and mosquitoes, and the human pathogens they transmit. She also teaches classes in global health and medical entomology.

The annual symposium provides a forum for the UW-Madison global health community to showcase recent work and connect with each other. The evening includes oral and poster presentations and a closing panel on a global health hot topic.

Watch this page for more details and registration information.

Call for abstracts

Deadline extended to: February 19, 2018

The call is open to members and partners of the UW-Madison community who are addressing global health and disease. From basic research to education to applied projects in the field, the symposium hopes to showcase the full spectrum of UW-Madison global health activity. We encourage and welcome presentations from all disciplines—from arts, agriculture, and business, to education, engineering, and humanities, to all of the health sciences and more. 

Following the keynote address, selected oral presenters will deliver their work in 15-minute (including time for questions), concurrent sessions. Posters will be available for viewing all evening, and a poster session follows the presentations. Hors d’oeuvres will be served during the networking reception that closes the evening.

Abstract Submission Form