#Boston #DoctorsWithoutBorders to hold recruitment meeting 9/21

Plenty of Boston health care workers are involved with the Lasker award-winning Doctors without Borders, including US president Dr. Deane Marchbein, an anesthesiologist at Cambridge Health Alliance.  They were cited for their work during the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

untitledThey are holding a recruitment meeting on Sept 21 at the Boston Public Library  Commonwealth Salon
230 Dartmouth St.

Every day, Doctors Without Borders aid workers from around the world provide assistance to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe—treating those most in need regardless of political, religious, or economic interest. Whether an emergency involves armed conflicts or epidemics, malnutrition or natural disasters, Doctors Without Borders is committed to bringing quality medical care to people caught in crisis.

On Monday, Sept. 21 medical and non-medical professionals are invited to join us for an evening presentation to learn more about how you can join Doctors Without Borders’ pool of dedicated aid workers.

An aid worker and Field Human Resources Officer will discuss requirements and the application process, and you’ll meet experienced Doctors Without Borders aid workers from the Boston area and hear their firsthand stories of “life in the field.”

Dr Marchbein spoke to the Globe when she was chosen  for the post in 2012.

Q. Tell me about a dangerous spot where you have worked.

A. I spent this winter in Lebanon, working on getting medical supplies into Syria. Health facilities, doctors, and nurses were targeted. Since we were not sure we could keep the team safe, we had to abandon the idea of putting them in the field. So I Skyped with medical counterparts to understand what they needed and I taught a trauma course in Lebanon for those who might be going to Syria. And we were finding ways to get medical supplies in there.

Q. How did you do that?

A. Basically it’s about consorting with smugglers. There are thousands of years’ worth of well-worn smuggling routes from bordering countries. So instead of flatscreen TVs, they were smuggling in medical supplies.

Here are a few more Boston docs involved with the group.

Jonathan Spector, Boston-based pediatrician

From WBUR: John Welch, a nurse anesthetist at Boston Children’s Hospital on his Ebola mission.

Designed to saves lives: Cholera, Haiti and the MASS Design Group’s latest clinic

The New York Times reports on the latest effort by the Boston-based MASS Design Group,  a cholera clinic in Haiti designed to so that natural ventilation — sea breezes — will lower transmission. Cholera reportedly arrived with aid workers after the island’s devastating earthquake. The story appears in the “Well Design” column, which reports on architecture and health care.

The clinics here are simple, even handsome. Instead of constructing hermetic shields in the form of airtight, inflexible hospital buildings, the architects took advantage of Haiti’s Caribbean environment, exploiting island cross breezes to heal patients and aid caregivers.

It’s not clear yet how well the clinics will work. They open soon. If they turn out right, they could serve as relatively light-footed models for other struggling countries that lack resources for high-end Western-style hospitals.

Building Better Builders from MASS Design Group on Vimeo.

How to feel a little bit better about ordering a $42 steak

Some need the excuse of a birthday or anniversary to splurge at celeb chef Jody Adams’ Rialto. Entrees at the Harvard Square restaurant run from $26 for roasted eggplant agrodolce (golden raisins, pine nuts, mozzarella, saffron tomatoes, chickpea arancini ) to $43 for grilled Tuscan sirloin steak (portabella, arugula, Parmigiano Reggiano, truffle oil).

For those interested in global health, here’s another. Louinique Occean, Rialto’s hePHIad baker, and Adams, James Beard Award-winning chef, are working with Partners in Health to create healthy meals with local ingredients at University Hospital in Mirebalais.

“Occean, who is Haitian-American, and Adams, a PIH trustee, have come at the request of the medical team to help the kitchen staff make healthier meals for patients, using locally sourced ingredients.

In Haiti, lack of access to nourishing food is at the root of many health problems. About 22 percent of young Haitian children show signs of chronic malnutrition. Doctors and nurses often see poor nutrition exacerbating the effects of other health problems, including tuberculosis, HIV, and diabetes. Malnutrition puts women at greater risk of dying in pregnancy and childbirth.”

Link here to her recipes.

Here is another tip for PHI supporters. For everyone who takes PIH’s 3-question, online quiz, a donor will contribute 50 cents to PIH’s maternal health efforts.


Harvard event: Can mobile apps improve health care in South Asia?

harvard event

Here’s how Wired describes HealthTap “A network of patients and doctors where patients can find doctors, and ask medical questions of specific physicians (for a fee) or to entire network. HealthTap already rates the doctors in its system based on how often they use the site to answer patient questions, and if other doctors agree with those answers. Now it’s adding information about which doctors get referred to the most so patients can find the most trusted MDs.”

Founder Ron Gutman will be at Harvard today to talk about  using the technology to improve health in India.

At 4 p.m.  in room K262, 1737 Cambridge Street, Cambridge. Free and open to the public.

For more health events this week, check out the BHN calendar.

Also, check out the story from “Daily Dose” blogger Deborah Kotz for the latest on good fat v. bad fat. 

What’s…clear is that Americans often received bad advice to eat as little fat as possible when it was first discovered that reducing saturated fats could reduce cholesterol, and especially after researchers demonstrated that the practice could prevent heart attacks. Too many of us embraced fat-free cakes and cookies after swearing off cheddar cheese and steak — and often gained weight as a result of the excess sugar and calories.

Partners in Health patron Tom White dies at 90

There would probably be no Partners in Health without Tom White, the Boston builder turned philanthropist who died yesterday.  He not only seeded the bold medical aid group, White believed in them when no in public health did. In today’s Globe obit, Dartmouth president and PIH founder Jim Kim called White “the real patron saint of hopeless causes. “He allowed us to tackle what are quite literally the most difficult health problems in the world,’’ including drug-resistant TB and untreated HIV. (Kim named his son after White.)

White in Haiti © PIH

In addition to the Globe story, see PIH’s own tributes, including one from Tracy Kidder, who followed PIH doc Paul Farmer around for a year for the book “Mountains Beyond Mountain.”

Recalling his first meetings with Paul Farmer, Tom said, “Paul was a lot younger than me, but he was way ahead of me, on service to the poor.” He smiled and went on, with a trace of wistfulness in his voice: “Sometimes I think how much money I used to have, before I met Paul Farmer.” Then he added, “But that’s all right. They give me a big steak now, and I can only eat half of it.” 

More here, including pictures.

Boston conference on technology and global health.

The World Health Medical Technology Conference, was a “workshop dedicated to exploring the opportunities and challenges of designing, building and funding medical technologies for the developing world.”

In other words, trying to find inexpensive tests and treatments that are simple to use and don’t require a lot of infrastructure, like labs and clean water.  

BHN sat in on the morning sessions at BU, which features presentations from local groups, including Cambridge’s “Diagnostics for All.”  Una Ryan, the group’s CEO, said: “We have all this advanced and innovative technology and we don’t know how to get it to the people who need it the most.”

So, the non-profit has created a tiny, paper diagnostic tool that works like a home pregnancy test.  Imagine a miniature game of Twister. Instead of a foot, health care worker can put a drop of blood on one of the dots. The dot then changes color based on, say, how well the patient’s liver is functioning.

 Since hepatitis and drugs for HIV and TB can cause liver damage, this simple, inexpensive test will allow docs to monitor patients even if in remote villages with no roads and a couple of generators for electricity.  The costs – ten cents. The group plans to use the technology to give rural health workers tools to test for and monitor TB, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes.

The session also featured a presentation on a Seattle group called PATH, which describes itself as an international nonprofit organization that creates sustainable, culturally relevant solutions, enabling communities worldwide to break longstanding cycles of poor health.” Among other projects, PATH is   working with a Cambridge start up called Daktari on an inexpensive hand-held device that can perform key blood tests on patients with HIV/AID.

Daktari was founded in 2008 by Bill Rodriguez, who has worked at both Harvard and at the Clinton Foundation, and Mehmet Toner, a Harvard/MIT engineer.

Innovation was the theme, as the morning speakers said many existing devices simply can’t be adapted to work in communities without water, doctors, or electricity.

“The technologies we use to diagnose diseases are way too complex,” Rodriguez said. “They were never designed to work in these settings.”

So for details, check out the Mass Device blog.


Infectious disease and Bostonians from Africa

Passing this along from the Running a Hospital blog, which is run by BIDMC chief Paul Levy. 

According to World Health Organization reports, nearly half of deaths due to infectious diseases globally, occur in the Sub-
Saharan Africa. Particularly, of all the people infected globally
by various diseases, 89% of those infected by malaria, 77%
of HIV/AIDS patients and 31% of Tuberculosis patients, in Sub-Saharan Africa die of these diseases.

There is a large population of Sub-Saharan Africans domiciled
here in Massachusetts.
The African Community Health Initiatives
(ACHI) has stepped up to help, not only to provide appropriate
education, but has increasingly become a conduit through which
people of African descent are sought after, screened for health
insurance, health/social service needs, and assisted with application/referral to appropriate health/social service providers.
ACHI also assists in the enrollment of clients in the Massachusetts state health insurance plans, namely, MassHealth and Commonwealth Care.


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