UniverCity Alliance covers Habitat III

This week is Habitat III Conference, a global summit on housing and sustainable urban development. UniverCity Alliance will be providing updates on the event, celebrating the work of our #Habitat3 partners from Mexico, Ecuador and Ethiopia, as well as the work of University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty member Shawn Kelly.

For coverage of and commentary on the event, information about the UniverCity Alliance Project and related projects, and updates on the activities of UW-Madison affiliates who will be in Quito for the conference, follow along at http://univercity.wisc.edu/category/habitatiii/

International Grassroots Development Leader Shares Work with UW Community

A champion for children, environment and peace, Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, who leads the largest grassroots development organization in Sri Lanka, visits the University of Wisconsin-Madison July 7-14 to teach, meet university and community colleagues and share his work through public lectures.

Ariyaratne is General Secretary of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement of Sri Lanka, which has received international acclaim for its holistic approach to development, humanitarian efforts and empowerment strategies. His visit is sponsored through a Visiting Scholar Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute. The awards encourage collaboration between UW-Madison faculty and staff and international colleagues.

“Dr. Ariyaratne’s visit highlights the importance and challenges of providing health care during political turmoil, which is relevant in many parts of the world today,” said Sweta Shrestha, GHI education programs associate. “We can’t take political stability and government commitment to health care as a given. We need to be prepared to have a discourse on the provision of emergency, long term and mental health care in times when there is no government or when systems are failing.”

Ariyaratne will present two public lectures:

  • Monday July 7: “Peace, Empowerment and Sustainable Development,” 5 p.m. Union South (See TITU for room)
  • Friday, July 11: “Community Health Amid Violent Conflict: Lessons from Sri Lanka,” 1:30 p.m. South Asia Summer Language Institute, 206 Ingraham Hall

Ariyaratne became executive director of Sarvodaya in the 1990s, directing a staff of more than 800 in more than 50 district centers. The organization, rooted in the traditions of Gandhi and Buddhism, has served 15,000 of Sri Lanka’s villages, building banks, pre-schools and other projects. At the height of the Sri Lankan separatist war, Ariyaratne established a program to address the psychosocial effects among children affected by conflict that’s torn the island nation for most of the last three decades. The community-based, non-medical approach helped thousands of children recover from trauma.

Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne

Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne

Ariyaratne also coordinated Sarvodaya’s response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that displaced more than a half million Sri Lankans and killed more than 35,000. The unique approach included relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction, reconciliation and reawakening, and a portfolio of projects worth more than $15 million. In mid-2009, he coordinated Sarvodaya’s humanitarian relief efforts to assist the health Ministry, United Nations agencies and other organizations serving thousands of internally displaced persons. The organization, founded by Ariyaratne’s father, is rooted in volunteerism and delivers services through local networks. Both were recognized by the Schwab Foundation and World Economic Forum as Social Entrepreneurs for 2014.

A physician and facilitator, Ariyaratne has taught peace-building, conflict resolution and reconciliation for grassroots, national and international groups. He has collaborated with the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, national and international non-governmental organizations and private groups.

While in Madison, Ariyaratne joins Shrestha to lead a one credit course, “Community Health in Conflict Situations,” that will 18 allow students to explore how conflict undermines sustainable development and how to address key health issues in a post-war environment. He also will meet with UW-Madison researchers and educators to foster collaborations and partnerships in Sri Lanka and beyond.

The Global Health Institute is dedicated to advancing health today while ensuring natural and other resources are available to provide health tomorrow. By encouraging and supporting unique collaboration, the Institute tackles the complex, intertwined determinants of health and disease. To learn more or to make a gift, visit ghi.wisc.edu.

By Ann Grauvogl 7/2/2014

African academies tap Patz to chair 20-nation joint meeting on climate change


Contact: Jake Moskol, Global Health Institute, 608-262-2852 or jamoskol@wisc.edu

MADISON, WI  – Living on a continent already vulnerable to drought, flooding and heat, scientist from 20 African Academies of Science gather Nov. 13 and 14 to discuss climate change and build interdisciplinary bridges to address it.

Dr. Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute (GHI) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, chairs the meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that takes on added urgency in light of the September findings from the United Nation’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The panel found continued climate warming, unprecedented loss of snow and ice cover, increasing levels of greenhouse gasses, rising sea levels, and a clear link to human activity.

Hotter, dryer climate threatens food, health

“Africa is an especially vulnerable region for climate change,” said Patz, who served for 15 years as a lead author for the IPCC which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore and co-chaired the health report of the first US National Assessment on Climate Change. In September, Patz also delivered a keynote address on the subject for the U.S. National Academies Institute of Medicine’s forum on environmental change and infectious disease.

The African academies looked to Patz because of his long-standing work on the societal threats posed by climate change and for his willingness to help, said Professor Shibru Tedla, executive director of the Ethiopia Academy of Sciences, the host organization for the workshop. “Convening multinational science academy members from across the continent reflects the high priority we place on climate change implications for Africa,” Tedla said about this high-level workshop. African academies will able to provide policy advice to their respective governments on issues related to climate change based on scientific evidence.

“The likely impacts of climate change have become evident this time more than ever,” said Dr. Belay Simane from Addis Ababa University and workshop facilitator, referring to the latest IPCC report. “Climate challenges will be most experienced in Africa due to low adaptive capacity and limited technology,” he added. Simane has written about a critical need to enhance Ethiopia’s capacity to cope with climate change to protect food and water supplies, especially in the highlands, home to 90 percent of the country’s population.

Patz, who is also a professor in the Department of Population Health Sciences and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies collaborated with faculty in the institute’s Center for Climatic Research (CCR) to review the latest IPCC report with a focus on Africa. “CCR’s synthesis from the IPCC findings was worrisome, showing much of Africa likely reaching average summer temperatures 2 to 3 degrees celcius (or 4 to 5 degrees farenheit) hotter by the year 2055,” he said.

Collaborating for change

“(African) climate research is currently done in silos, leaving other departments and universities unaware of other related research,” said Dr. Simane, who is also faculty in the university’s Climate Science Centre.  With this meeting, African scientists begin to establish a national knowledge-sharing network that will bridge the information gap between academics, experts, and policy makers. This effort shows the academies are on board to address climate change and will map a way forward to generate information, prepare joint proposals and build capacity to address issues, he added.


Global Health Institute Director, Dr. Jonathan Patz

During the Addis Ababa meeting, African scientists will discuss priorities, including food security, the spread of infectious diseases, and the future of renewable energy in the face of climate change. They will move forward on research, interventions and evaluations of the interventions.

The Academies of Science are coming together in a serious way, Patz said. With the African Union also based in Addis Ababa, this collaborative model could become the way of the future in Africa. “I feel lucky to participate in this kind of activity,” he said.

UW-Madison committed to Ethiopian health

UW-Madison is deeply involved in Ethiopia thanks to early work by Dr. Girma Tefera, a native Ethiopian and UW-Madison professor of vascular surgery, Patz said. Tefera, also a GHI advisory member, led a 2009 program that linked UW Hospital and Clinics with the University of Addis Ababa’s Black Lion Hospital to build, manage and lead a successful emergency department. GHI faculty and staff have further added to his efforts, establishing training programs in Primary Care and Health System Quality Improvement.  UW departments of pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology are planning training programs in Ethiopia. The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences also has ongoing research addressing climate and food security in Ethiopia.

To bring what he calls a “whole of university” integrated approach to work in Ethiopia, Patz looks forward to filling a gap in environmental health collaborations, including designing sustainable, livable cities as rural populations move into urban centers. “They haven’t built the infrastructure yet in the smaller cities and are not overly committed to fossil fuels for urban transportation,” Patz said. “It’s a golden opportunity to do it right the first time.” UW-Madison scientists also will help establish Addis Ababa’s first air quality monitoring system and are planning rural biogas and solar energy projects to reduce deforestation and provide power.

Developing countries leapfrogged Western development pathways when they skipped landline telephone technology and moved straight to cell phones, Patz said. “When you have a country like Ethiopia, where one of the stated national priorities is ‘Climate Resilience and a Green Economy’, that’s a great opportunity to shape future development with environmental and health sustainability in mind.,” Patz said. “The approach is in complete alignment with the mission of our UW Global Health Institute.”


by Ann Grauvogl 11/11/13



Health care leaders = hope for the future

Third annual QI Institute

Sixteen global health fellows and project representatives from Africa and eastern Asia developed plans to reduce unwanted pregnancies, improve health care and save lives during a weeklong workshop sponsored by the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The third annual Quality Improvement (QI) Institute brought an international group of fellows and project directors to Madison in August to advance how they provide health care and foster leadership for change, said Lori DiPrete Brown, GHI associate director for Education and Engagement and director of the QI Institute. During the week, they shared their challenges with each other and worked with students, faculty, and staff from UW–Madison, UW Hospitals and Clinics and the UW Medical Foundation as they developed plans to tackle specific problems.

QI provides a framework for health practitioners to identify a process that needs changing, uncover the causes of poor quality, and implement ways to improve care and outcomes. With QI in place, health leaders maximize benefits to well-being without increasing risks, DiPrete Brown said. The process began with a single question: What do you want to change?

The fellows left with a variety of action plans to improve health outcomes.

  • In Ethiopia, for example, a group will use room heaters and regular monitoring to reduce hypothermia among newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit from 55 percent to 10 percent. The goal is to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and reduce deaths.
  • In Nepal, another plan will reduce post-surgical infection rates by a third in a Nepalese hospital that serves 1.9 million people. Posting best sanitation practices and monthly post-surgical infection rate reports are among the recommendations that will reduce patient loads and patient costs, while encouraging patients to undergo critical surgeries and improve their quality of life.
  • In Gambia, a team will improve life skills education for students aged 15 to 19, in an area where seven percent of girls are married by the time they’re 15 and 36 percent by 18. Training staff, setting standards, and establishing consistent class time are the top three priorities.

In working with health leaders from other countries, UW students recognized how much they have to contribute and to learn, DiPrete Brown said. The conversations created a context for information students learned in the classroom. Interacting with students in Madison also encourages international visitors to want to engage with UW–Madison students as partners and learners, DiPrete Brown said. The good reputation of UW–Madison students will lead to engaged learning opportunities and internships at the sites.

Hope for the future

Health care leaders present a great hope for the future, keynote speaker Dr. Sally Kraft, medical director of Quality, Safety and Innovation at UW Health, told the international group. Great leaders combine deep personal humility and intense resolve, she said.

“Be absolutely clear about your purpose and then unwavering in your commitment to that purpose. Live with humility, channeling ambitions to achieving the collective goal.”—Dr. Sally Kraft, on the role of a health care leader

“The best leaders make sure they have the right people on their teams, are brutally honest about reality and unwavering in their faith that their team can succeed,” Kraft said. “They understand what it means to be the best, understand the economics and ignite the passions of the people, she said. And they create a culture of discipline.

The Global Health Institute, supported by a combination of public and private funding, is dedicated to addressing the multi-layered causes of illness and health and discovering sustainable strategies to improve well-being. GHI fosters collaboration to expand the traditional, medical response to international health crises to include environmental, economic, political, and public health issues.

By Ann Grauvogl | Oct 7, 2013