Project will bring light to Ethiopian villages

Belachew Gessesse from Bahir Dar University is visiting UW-Madison to develop a blueprint for a laboratory-scale microgrid. He's shown here in a Bahir Dar training room. (Photo by Jonathan Patz.)

Belachew Gessesse from Bahir Dar University is visiting UW-Madison to develop a blueprint for a laboratory-scale microgrid. He’s shown here in a Bahir Dar training room.

Women and children will benefit first from a University of Wisconsin-Madison/Bahir Dar University project to bring electricity to remote Ethiopian villages.

“There will be light,” says Belachew Gessesse, assistant professor at Bahir Dar University, “Wherever there is light, there is opportunity to read and write. … This increases literacy. We will have no illiterate children. We will have no illiterate women.”

Instead of trying to connect widely dispersed villages to a national electrical grid, Gessesse and Giri Venkataramanan, a UW-Madison professor of electrical and computer engineering and an advisory associate for the Global Health Institute (GHI), look toward developing microgrids, or stand-alone, small-scale electric networks to generate, store and distribute electricity to individual or groups of villages. Continue reading

GHI Seed Grant results: Child care, help at home could increase Malian women farmers’ productivity

Malian women attend a village meeting about agricultural practices.

Malian women attend a village meeting about agricultural practices.

Family structures more than farm technologies determine agricultural productivity for Malian women, says the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Jeremy Foltz. Understanding both the household priorities and labor allocation for Malian women outside of farming was key to Foltz’s research on generating changes in addressing agricultural productivity.

Foltz, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, is co-director of the Program of Agricultural Technology Studies. A Global Health Institute Seed Grant funded the project to explore gender, agricultural productivity and sustainability in Mali, Africa. One of Foltz’s graduate students, Julie Collins, focused her research in Mali on the issues that cause women’s fields to have lower yields than men’s.

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Global health ethic echoes calls from Aldo Leopold, Pope Francis to care for people and the planet

The global health ethic calls for protecting the land and people now and for the future.

 “Widening health disparities, pollution of the land, water and atmosphere, and the emergence of new and zoonotic infections threaten everyone. How can we, as a society, commit to addressing issues of such magnitude, for which the pace of progress will be measured in generations?”

– Tony Goldberg and Jonathan Patz in The Lancet


Global health has little chance of lasting success without an underlying ethic that recognizes “the health of each of us is linked to the health of all the rest,” the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Tony Goldberg and Jonathan Patz write in “The need for a global health ethic,” published today in  the online version of The Lancet. Continue reading

U.S. could learn about cancer prevention—from Rwanda


Dr. James Conway, right, leads immunization trainings in sub-Saharan Africa and sees lessons for the United States in Rwanda’s HPV immunization program.

Rwanda has lessons to offer the United States when it comes to vaccinating girls against human papillomavirus (HPV)—which can cause cervical and head and neck cancers, says Dr. James Conway, associate director for health sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute.

Rwanda has vaccinated 95 percent of 12- to 15-year-old girls against HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease. In the United States, less than 40 percent of 13- to 17-year-old girls receive needed doses of the vaccination.

“Rwanda is an example of the amazing things that can be done with collaboration, prioritization and removal of barriers,” says Conway, an international champion for the HPV vaccine. He is working to improve vaccination rates in Wisconsin and his team has trained immunization workers in many sub-Saharan African countries. Continue reading

GHI grants support emergency medicine, women, palliative care and more

group female farmers-2

Professor Janet Hyde leads a 2015 GHI Seed Grant project that will reconsider how to measure women’s contributions to agriculture in countries, including Ghana, shown here.

Consider this scenario: A patient arrives in a South African emergency room burning up with fever. The symptoms could mean malaria, but the physician needs to know more.

With a 2015 Seed Grant from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute (GHI), Dr. Janis P. Tupesis from the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and Dr. Mohammed Dalwai from the University of Cape Town will develop a mobile phone application that will help physicians in sub-Saharan Africa access critical information when it’s needed.

Up-to-date, local information is vital for good patient care, says Tupesis, director of Global Health Programs, Department of Emergency Medicine, and GHI-Graduate Medical Education liaison. “How do we get practical clinical practice guidelines to real people in real time?” Those clinical practice guidelines tell physicians how each hospital and region manages emergencies such as heart attacks, strokes or injured children. Continue reading

Climate change and health unraveled:

The world's most vulnerable communities will among the first adversely affected by climate change--facing crop losses, malnutrition and illness.

“Time is running out. We, as a global community, need to take action to mitigate and adapt to climate change—now.”

—From Gro H. Bruntland’s forward to “Climate Change and Public Health”

From Pope Francis to President Barack Obama, world leaders are recognizing that a changing climate causes, and will increasingly cause, death and disease. With the just released “Climate Change and Public Health,” co-editor Dr. Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, provides a road map through the science of climate change, its effects on human illness and how addressing climate promotes public health and well-being."Climate Change and Health"

“In the last 20 years, climate change has gone from the margins to the main stream of public health,” says Patz, the John P. Holton Chair in Health and the Environment with appointments in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Population Health Sciences. He co-edited “Climate Change and Public Health” (Oxford University Press), an accessible, comprehensive introduction to climate change and its health consequences, with Dr. Barry Levy, an adjunct professor of Public Health at Tufts University School of Medicine and president of the American Public Health Association.

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4-H key to improving young lives in Ghana

4-H Students participating in turkey lessons and gardening

Mary Crave, a program development and evaluation specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Extension and a director of the UW-Madison’s 4W Initiative (For Women and Well-being in Wisconsin and the World), knows 4-H.

The Wisconsin farm girl joined at age 9, one of seven Crave kids in the program. Food, nutrition and sewing were her passions. What she learned was self-confidence, leadership, public speaking and other life skills. A 4-H exchange to Sri Lanka gave her a first taste of international experience and opened her eyes to how the program provides opportunities for youth. That early experience has taken her to more than a dozen African countries in professional roles.

A new grant from the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment gives Crave another opportunity to pay her 4-H experience forward, this time in Ghana­­­ in western Africa. Continue reading

Holton Chair champions work in health and climate change

Entrepreneur and philanthropist John Holton joined GHI Director Jonathan Patz at the U.N. Climate Summit in New York City.

Internationally recognized for his work at the intersection of health and climate change, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Jonathan Patz says the new John P. Holton Chair in Health and the Environment will significantly advance this work.

“In light of the current climate crisis and its impact on all aspects of health, John Holton’s gift is timely and will accelerate concerted cross-disciplinary work required to confront global environmental health challenges,” Patz says. The director of the UW-Madison Global Health Institute and professor in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and Department of Population Health Sciences will hold the endowed chair.

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Commuter Solutions offers spring biking tips

This story was originally posted on the University of Wisconsin-Madison News website.


A bicyclist pedals along the Howard Temin Lakeshore Path. Photo: Bryce Richter


It really is springtime — finally! Many people find one of the best ways to shake off winter and get outside is to jump on a bicycle. Staff members from Commuter Solutions, part of UW-Madison’s Transportation Services, share nine top tips for making those early rides safe and fun.

  1. The days are still short, and motorists may not yet be accustomed to seeing more bicyclists on the road. Wear reflective clothes when biking in the early evenings or at night. Use a white front light and a rear red reflector (or even better: add a red rear light) for safety. Plus, it’s the law!
  2. Want to learn more about taking care of your bike? Stop by the University Bicycle Resource Center in the basement garage of Helen C. White Library anytime between 4 and 8 p.m. through early May. You can also take free classes, such as “Shifting and Derailleurs,” on Wednesday, April 15 at 6 p.m., or “Introduction to Truing a Wheel” on Wednesday, May 6 at 6 p.m.
  3. Don’t have a bike? Borrow one from Madison B-cycle. UW students and employees can join for a year for only $20. New kiosk locations are popping up every day.
  4. If you’re looking for the best routes to take on your journey, using Google Maps for bike directions can help, especially when used in combination with the City of Madison bike map.
  5. Always wear a helmet and eye protection when bicycling. University Bicycle Resource Center has coupons for discounts on helmets and lights, and the Kohl Safety Center at UW Hospital sells helmets for just $10.
  6. Be sure to use a quality bike lock. Lock both the frame and front wheel to a bike rack. Remember that on campus you may not lock to trees, handrails, benches, signs or anything besides a bike rack.
  7. Register your bicycle with the City of Madison. Besides being a legal requirement, it can assist you in getting your bike back if it is ever stolen — as in the case of UWPD’s recent bike bust.
  8. Bicycles are legal vehicles, so follow the rules of the road.
  9. If you’re leaving campus, don’t forget to take your bike home at the end of the spring semester. Bicycles left on campus for more than 72 hours can be impounded and will be transferred to UW SWAP by the time you return in fall. Bicycles left outside overnight also make easy targets for thieves.

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Mitman film looks inside Ebola from Liberian perspective

Emmanuel Urey at home in Monrovia with his sons Nelly and Joseph and their great grandmother. He was forced to leave the children in the country as the Ebola epidemic erupted. (Photo by Sarita Siegel.)

Emmanuel Urey, a UW-Madison graduate student, at home in Monrovia with his sons Nelly and Joseph and their great grandmother. He was forced to leave Nelly and another son, Bobby, in Liberia as the Ebola epidemic erupted. (Photo by Sarita Siegel.)

For Emmanuel Urey, a graduate student at UW-Madison, having to choose only one of his three children living in Liberia to bring to safety transformed Ebola from a disease into a personal nightmare.

In the midst of the Ebola outbreak in his hometown of Monrovia, Liberia, Urey found himself constrained by travel restrictions and stereotypes when he tried to bring all of his children safely back to Madison with him.

“We had to leave Bobby and Nelly behind. It’s like leaving your children in a war zone”—Emmanuel Urey, UW-Madison graduate student

Gregg Mitman, a Professor of History of Science, Medical History, and Environmental Studies and member of the Global Health Institute Advisory, captures Urey’s personal experience in Liberia and Madison in the documentary, “In the Shadow of Ebola.” With the film, Mitman offers a sharp contrast to the crisis portrayed throughout most of the media coverage on Ebola.

“In the Shadow of Ebola” will be playing at the Wisconsin Film Festival at 11:45 a.m. Saturday, April 11, and 11:30 a.m. Sunday, April 12. The film trailer is online. Continue reading

Global Health Symposium spans disciplines, generations and the world

Global Health Symposium 2015 tackles the interconnected causes of health and disease, from food security and energy to access to health care.

Global Health Symposium 2015 tackles the interconnected causes of health and disease, from food security and energy to access to health care.

The 11th annual Global Health Symposium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison not only brings colleagues together from across disciplines, it provides an intergenerational forum for undergraduates, graduate students and faculty and staff to share ideas.

That’s important, says Eric Obscherning, co-founder of the student-led Global Health Coalition. Faculty and staff bring experience in the nuances and complexity of global health work. Undergraduates, with little experience, push boundaries by asking “What if.” In between are graduate students with the idealism and passion of the undergraduates and the experience of mid-level professionals. Continue reading

EPA Administrator’s WHO address completes 18-year circle

Countries with the fewest resources are especially vulnerable to climate change. (Photo by Jonathan Patz.)

Countries with the fewest resources are especially vulnerable to climate change. (Photo by Jonathan Patz.)

Listening to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy address the World Health Organization’s executive board, Jonathan Patz, director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute, could see his work coming full circle.

Although he was a guest listening to McCarthy’s Jan. 29 presentation in Geneva, Patz was front and center 18 years ago as he organized the first-ever climate change and health briefing for then EPA Administrator Carol Browner. Continue reading

In the midst of Ebola, UW alumna learns to trust science

Signs in rural Liberia encourage villagers to stay safe during the Ebola epidemic. (Photo by Hannah Kirking.)

To many of us, flying into Liberia at the height of the Ebola epidemic would spell only danger.

For Dr. Hannah Kirking, a Badger twice over and an epidemic intelligence service officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a month among villagers in Grand Cape Mount County was a chance to embody the work she believes in.

“My experience taught me you have to trust science,” she says. “I wanted to show that you can give patient-centered care and be safe.”

Thursday, Feb. 12, Kirking (BS ’04, MD ‘10), who is also a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Public Health Service, returns to University of Wisconsin-Madison to present a Global Health Seminar Series talk on “The Ebola Epidemic in West Africa: How epidemiology informs an international response.” Continue reading

Colloquium showcases how GHI awards benefit Wisconsin and the world

Graduate student Jinho Kim studied how friend networks influence sexual activity among Malawi teens.

Graduate student Jinho Kim studied how friend networks influence sexual activity among Malawi teens.

Treating hypertension in low-resource settings, understanding the impact of agricultural production on family well-being and developing ways to foster resilience and disseminating health information through mobile phones are among the projects that will be discussed during the 2015 Global Health Institute Research Colloquium Monday, Feb. 9, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

UW-Madison faculty, staff and doctoral students, who received funding through the Global Health Institute’s (GHI) initial Seed Grants and Graduate Student Research Awards, will present short overviews of their work to address health challenges. The Colloquium is from noon to 2 p.m. in the Lake Mendota Room at Dejope Hall.

“The projects underscore the importance of working across disciplines to improve health for all,” says Tony Goldberg, GHI associate director of research. “We are excited to present these projects to the campus community as examples of the important global health work that’s happening at UW-Madison.” Continue reading

Rural Wisconsin high school students explore global health and becoming world citizens

“How many of you wear contacts?” Sweta Shrestha, programs associate at the University

High School Global Health Day introduces rural students to the many causes of health and disease.

GlobeMed students from UW-Madison worked with rural high school students during the GHI High School Global Health Day, introducing them to the many causes of health and disease.

of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute, asked a room full of high school students and their teachers. “How many think of that as a disability that could put your life in danger? What if someone can’t go to the eye doctor–even in the United States?”

“Opening Doors to the World,” the second annual High School Global Health Day at UW-Madison, introduced 20 rural students to the many circumstances that impact health in Wisconsin and across the world. The day was co-sponsored by the UW-Madison Global Health Institute, South Central Wisconsin Area Health Education Center and GlobeMed UW-Madison.

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