SECTION CONNECTION An insider's view of the APHA International Health Section

If you ever feel like you’re just one person trying to change something, I promise there are hundreds, thousands, if not millions of people out there who feel the same way as you, who want to make a difference.

Saira O’Mallie

Issue 14 - Fall 2020


  • Message from the Chair
  • APHA Annual Meeting Goes Virtual!
  • Member Spotlight: Vanessa Chilombo and Frances Dean
  • A little bit of history of the IH Section
  • Committee and Working Group Updates
  • Member News
  • Featured Working Group: Global Maternal and Child Health Network

Message from the Chair

Dear friends and colleagues,

Warm greetings! I hope you are staying well as we all continue to adapt to this new norm. As this is my last “Message from the Chair” before I hand the Chair role over to Dr. Padmini Murthy after the Annual Meeting, I want to let you know how inspired I am by the work that each one of you is contributing to the COVID-19 response and to strengthening the broader global and public health community. On behalf of our section leadership team, I offer our gratitude for your contributions and the hope that you will continue to share your accomplishments, challenges and learnings with your International Health section community.

Next week is the start of our Annual Meeting. And even though we are going virtual this year, our leaders have arranged various activities and opportunities for us to connect with each other. You can visit us at the Exhibit Booth during one of our virtual office hours on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday; at our Open House on Sunday; or our Networking and Awards Ceremony on Tuesday. There will be plenty of opportunities for networking with each other during these events. You will find more information on our events below in our round-up of IH events at the Annual Meeting.

In addition, in this issue you will read an interview with two of our members - Frances Dean and Vanessa Chilombo Da Costa; hear updates from our various working groups and committees; and get up close and personal with leaders from our Global Maternal and Child Health Network.

We look forward to seeing you at our section activities at the Annual Meeting, and hope you will continue to stay connected and involved with our section.

Sarah Shannon

When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.

Malala Yousafzai

International Health at the Annual Meeting

Every year, the Program Committee organizes the review of submitted abstracts in order to build a strong program of presenters for our annual meeting. Our Section Councilors then meet to organize our Exhibit Booth and networking events while the Membership Committee brainstorms ways to welcome new members to our Open House and the Awards Committee accepts nominations for annual awards honoring distinguished section members. Together with our broader leadership, these committees had the very special task of trying to put this all together in a virtual format this year. We hope you enjoy our program and meet with us at our various social events. Below are a few highlights from our program.

Meet us during our Office Hours! An IH leader will be available by Zoom to answer your questions and talk to you about our section at the following dates and times: Sunday, October 25, 2020: 1:30pm-3pm and 4:15pm-5:30pm MT; Monday, October 26, 2020: 11:30am-1:30pm MT; Tuesday, October 27, 2020: 11:30am-1:30pm MT. Visit our Exhibit Booth for more information.

Community-Based Primary Health Care (CBPHC) Working Group Pre-Conference Event - Health for All: Addressing Power & Privilege in Collaborative Practice. Saturday, October 24. 8 am – 1 pm MT. Register online at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/health-for-all-addressing-power-privilege-in-collaborative-practice-tickets-117331721337

International Abortion Working Group Meeting. Saturday, October 24. 10 am - 12 pm MT. https://apha.confex.com/apha/2020/meetingapp.cgi/Session/61756

Palestine Health Justice Working Group Meeting. Saturday, October 24. 10 am - 12 pm MT. https://apha.confex.com/apha/2020/meetingapp.cgi/Session/61755

Policy and Advocacy Committee Business Meeting. Sunday, October 25. 9 am - 11 am MT. https://apha.confex.com/apha/2020/meetingapp.cgi/Session/61752

International Health Climate Change and Health Working Group Meeting. Sunday, October 25. 9 am – 11 am MT. https://apha.confex.com/apha/2020/meetingapp.cgi/Session/61754

International Health Section Open House. Sunday, October 25. 2 PM to 3:15 PM MT. The International Health section will be hosting a virtual Open House on Sunday October 25, 2020, from 2:00 - 3:00 PM MT. This is conference session number 249. Please join us for a chance to get to know more about our section, and hear about opportunities to get involved in section activities. https://apha.confex.com/apha/2020/meetingapp.cgi/Session/61885

International Health Section Business Meeting. Sunday, October 25. 3:15 PM to 4 PM MT. All are welcome to attend even if you aren't registered to attend! Please check your email from the APHA Connect list-serv for the meeting invitation and link or email ihsection.communications@gmail.com if you have not received it and want to attend.

International Health Section Virtual Social and Awards Reception. Tuesday, October 27, 2020. 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm MT. Join us for a fun night of networking and a short awards ceremony to recognize outstanding members who have contributed in an important way to global health and our section. We will have mini breakout sessions for those who want to get to know fellow section members! https://apha.confex.com/apha/2020/meetingapp.cgi/Session/61886

View the International Health program here: https://apha.confex.com/apha/2020/meetingapp.cgi/Program/1968

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” – Robin Williams

Member Spotlight: Frances Dean and Vanessa Chilombo Da Costa

Frances Dean (left) and Vanessa Chilombo Da Costa (right)

Tell us about yourself.

Vanessa: I am a Global Public Health Professional and Career Development Entrepreneur. I hold a Master of Public Health Degree in Global Epidemiology from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I was born in the United Kingdom, immigrated to the United States at the age of 4, and grew up in 4 different states. My heritage is Zambia (Mom’s side) and The Gambia/Ghana (Dad’s side) so I consider myself to be from many places. I recently completed 2 years as a Global Epidemiology Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in South Africa through the PHI/CDC Global Health Fellowship program. In that role I facilitated the data management, analysis, and visualization deliverables for South Africa’s PEPFAR-supported HIV granular site management program. I am also the founder of Chilombo Global Career Services LLC, a career development platform for students and professionals, specializing in public health.

Frances: My name is Frances, and I am a dual degree student at The University of Michigan studying Interpersonal Practice (Social Work) and General Epidemiology (Public Health). My research and practice-based experience (so far) has been focused on mental health, substance abuse, social technologies, sexual health, epidemiologic disease investigations, capacity building and vulnerable populations on a local and global level.

How did you get interested in public/global health?

Vanessa: Like many people in the field of public health, I started University on a pre-medical track. I volunteered at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in high school, and that experience sparked by interest in becoming a pediatrician. While at UNC I became involved in the student chapter of the nonprofit organization-Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children. Through this organization I was able to learn about and engage in public health efforts focused on providing medical resources and health education to underserved communities and it exposed me to the public health side of the healthcare field. It was this experience that led me to serving in Peace Corps Rwanda.

Frances: My interests evolved when I took a Summer Enrichment Trip to Italy prior to my freshman year of college. Initially, I wanted to pursue nursing; however, after learning about the EU’s healthcare structure and how comprehensive it was of many health science careers, I wanted to take a interdisciplinary approach to human health!

What do you enjoy most about working in public/global health?

Vanessa: Working with people from different cultures to problem-solve develop solutions is what I love about global health. As someone who grew up constantly moving, having to make new friends in new places, and with family in multiple countries and continents, I knew that I wanted my work to be in a global setting. Local is global and I think is important to note that you don’t need to leave your community or country to contribute to global health needs, but I always consider the global community to be ‘home’ for me, so being able to work in different countries and communities outside of and including my own has always been a part of me personally and professionally.

Frances: Once I found out about Epidemiology, in particular, I was excited to know that the field can be used within multiple subject areas, including global mental health (or global psychiatric epidemiology, as it could be called). My brain just started clicking with epidemiologic methods immediately and the fact that it can be used to develop programs on an individual and community level is even more satisfying.

What made you interested in starting your own business helping other public/global health professionals?

Vanessa: I started assisting students with resumes and college applications in 2015, while I was living and working in Rwanda. I enjoyed the work and was able to take the skills I learned from my experiences and research to assist others. When I relocated to Atlanta for graduate school I continued this work with my peers and started developing and curating free resources for people to access. My older sister inspired me to turn my volunteer services into a business, and in January 2019 Chilombo Global Career Services was born! Chilombo Careers provides services, free resources, and courses/webinars to help students and professionals optimize their career journeys.

Frances: I remember creating my resume for Project IMHOTEP (a CDC-sponsored summer program) and people were looking over it, appreciating how much experience I had. Once I made a similar profile on LinkedIn, I started getting so many messages from people asking how to get more experience and work with the CDC. That’s when I decided to put my skills to work — by offering technical assistance and advising people to tap into the resources they have at school and work (paid or volunteer).

How did you get involved with the IH section and what do you enjoy most about being involved with the IH section?

Vanessa: I joined APHA about 1 year ago and knew that I wanted to be in a space where I could keep up with global health happenings and resources outside of my immediate network of colleagues. Reading about other people’s experiences and participating in ongoing events is a great way to continue learning. I look forward to playing a more active role in the International Health section in the future.

Frances: I was introduced to global/international health when I joined the UGA STARR Lab and applied for the Global Health Certificate (Minor). Once I did a few projects to support West Africans in building research capacity and mental health rapport, I started to read into literature on how global psychiatric epidemiology was implemented. I enjoy seeing the global collaborations that APHA IH has made with Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH), USAID and countless others.

What advice do you have for others who want to start working in global health?

Vanessa: Don’t limit yourself to the major agencies and organizations. There are so many avenues to global health work, and it’s important to keep an open mind and explore a wide range of opportunities. Additionally, it’s very important to reflect on your motivation and practices as you navigate the global health field. The way global health and international development programs are started, implemented, and continued is not always equitable and effective. Being aware of your privilege is one step, and actively working towards inclusiveness and an anti-racist and anti-colonialist mindset is not just a box to check, but what the global health workforce should continuously strive for. In global health, as in any industry, knowing when to listen is just as important as leading.

Frances: Start researching your interests early and check out any study abroad opportunities that will increase your exposure to global health issues! You may never know what skills you are able to gain and the exposure you may have missed!

Tell us one fun fact about yourself.

Vanessa: The most adventurous activity I’ve ever done is the big rush swing in Durban, South Africa. It’s the world’s tallest rope swing, where you jump off of the Moses Mabhida Stadium and swing down above the soccer field. And no, I won’t be skydiving next!

Frances: I don’t have any school debt! Applied for scholarships all my life and was able to get tuition and fees covered!

“Put your heart, mind and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” – Swami Sivananda

Do you know the early history of APHA's International Health section?

By: Ray Martin, IH Historian/Archivist

You can read about it in a neat story prepared on the 25th anniversary of the 1976 founding of the section and entitled Growth of International Health: An Analysis and History. It's on our website at https://www.apha.org/~/media/files/pdf/topics/international_health_book.ashx

You can learn about the roles played in international health by personalities such as Al Gore and Mother Theresa. Read about a 1974 APHA editorial citing multiple surveys "indicating that Americans' trust in government has fallen sharply with striking evidence of lost faith in the political system as well as an erosion of confidence in social institutions." (page 8)

The first chair of the section, with 345 members, was Dr. Carl Taylor, a giant in international health. Our section's Lifetime Achievement Award is now named after him. Membership grew rapidly and by the time of the 2003 writing of this history, IH members affirmed that "the section has provided a gateway for women into the international arena and provided valuable mentoring and guidance to many students and new entries to the field while maintaining a continuous advocacy effort for international health." (page 16)

There can be no real growth without healthy populations. No sustainable development without tackling disease and malnutrition. No international security without assisting crisis-ridden countries. And no hope for the spread of freedom, democracy and human dignity unless we treat health as a basic human right.

Gro Brundtland

Committee and Working Group Updates

Climate Change and Health Working Group (CC&H WG) The IH CC&H WG, as part of its Excellence in Climate Leadership Award, is recruiting students and early career professionals to develop climate change essays and actions: there are small cash awards. Please contact Rose Schneider, rschneider@jhu.edu.

We encourage your participation in the updated Climate and Health survey promoted in APHA and other institutions. See flyer and link to University of Miami qualtrics survey. Survey results will be reported at APHA 2020. For more information, please contact Dr. Daniel Samano, dxs1059@med.miami.edu

Recent research found a lack of a required climate change course in curricula in U.S. schools and programs of public health. Research findings will be presented at APHA 2020. Discussions with the Global Consortium of Climate and Health Education and the Council of Education for Public Health are planned. For more information, please contact Dr. Mona Arora, manand@email.arizona.edu or Dr. Julie Becker, j.becker@usciences.edu

International Abortion Working Group: On October 27th from 3:00 pm-4:30 pm MT the International Abortion Working Group and the Sexual and Reproductive Health's Abortion Task Force will co-host a session on "Sustainability in the Face of the Global Gag Rule: Innovative strategies for providing safe abortion care." Panelists from Doctors Without Borders, Ipas, International Rescue Committee, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Hesperian Health Guides will discuss ways that health systems, international and national NGOs, and others provide patient-centered, safe and financially sustainable abortion care in the context of the expanded Global Gag Rule (GGR). This panel will build upon the invited panel session that took place at the 2019 Annual Meeting titled Political Economy of Abortion: the Expanded Global Gag Rule and Beyond.

Communications Committee: We are delighted to welcome two new co-chairs, Dr Heather DeVries McClintock and Sarah Edmonds. Together they will co-chair the Social Media Subcommittee. They are currently recruiting for volunteer Social Media Associates and a Social Media Manager. We are also pleased to welcome our newest Regular Contributor to our blog, Asma Awan. We always welcome volunteer contributors to our blog. Learn more about the open volunteer roles here and learn more about our newest team members here.

"Health care is vital to all of us some of the time, but public health is vital to all of us all of the time." C. Everett Koop

Member News

IH Section Councilor, Dr. Mark Strand, lead author on COVID and pharmacy paper. International Health Section Councilor, Dr. Mark Strand, was the lead author on a paper highlighting the contributions of community pharmacy to COVID response and mitigation. Community pharmacists assist patients to manage disease and prevent complications. Despite the enormous challenge the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has dealt to the health care system, community pharmacists have maintained the delivery of critical health services to communities, including those most at risk for COVID-19. Community pharmacists are in a key position to deliver priority pandemic responses including point-of-care testing for chronic disease management, vaccinations, and COVID-19 testing. Here is a link to the paper, from the CDC journal Preventing Chronic Disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7380294/

IH Breastfeeding Form Liaison and section member, Dr. Jennifer Yourkavitch, authored two guidance documents on breastfeeding and child nutrition. Dr. Yourkavitch, along with her colleagues, have released two guidance documents that members may find useful. The first is entitled Recommendations and Considerations for the Use and Cleaning of Lactation Rooms During the COVID-19 Pandemic. The second is an internal risk assessment tool developed for USAID Advancing Nutrition offices around the world. This tool assesses the risk of COVID-19 transmission during events and interactions that are/were part of common public health interventions. Although it was developed as an internal management tool, it could be useful to other organizations that are trying to make their public health events and interactions safe.

Honoring APHA champion of community-based primary health care (CBPHC) Connie Gates, MPH. Connie is a champion of CBPHC and was the winner of the IH Section's 2018 Gordon-Wyon Award for Community-Oriented Public Health, Epidemiology and Practice. Connie was just diagnosed with very advanced cancer. She is very weak and in the hospital and is not expected to recover. She is still able to appreciate messages from old friends and colleagues. You can text her at 919-929-0650 or send a card to her P.O. Box 291, Carrboro, NC 27510, or email a message for her to Ray Martin at martinrs@aol.com and he'll convey it to her. She has made a lifetime contribution toward changing the traditional paradigm for effective global health strategies from a medical hospital-based approach to a broader public health community approach, most notably through her educational efforts, including presentations at APHA conferences, of the ground-breaking Jamkhed project in India. She was a regular, prominent participant in the annual pre-APHA conference workshop of the IH Section's CBPHC working group.

Connie Gates, MPH (left) and a photo of Connie with colleagues at the Global Conference on PHC (right)
“It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Want to be featured in a future newsletter? Have an idea for a story? Just want to say hi?

Email the Communications Committee with your idea.

Public health is everybody's business.

Get to know the Global Maternal and Child Health Network

1. What is the Global MCH Network?

The Global Maternal and Child Health Network (GMCHN) is an intersectoral working group of APHA members interested in global MCH. The GMCHN was founded by members of the Maternal and Child Health Section and the International Health Section in 2015 in order to create an intersectional space in which to contribute to scientific learning, policy development, and engagement on global MCH. All members of APHA are welcome to join.

The GMCHN addresses comprehensive reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health at the global level mirroring public health, healthcare, education, workforce, and economic international development priorities.

The GMCHN Steering Committee meets monthly to plan and implement global MCH activities, including business meetings at the APHA Annual Meeting, informational webinars, and policy development.

Members of the GMCHN have been very active developing global MCH-related policy. Most recently, the GMCHN led a team comprised of members from six APHA Sections to develop the APHA policy “A Global Call to Action to Improve Health Through Investment in Maternal Mental Health, which was adopted in 2019 (20192)." Prior, the GMCHN authored the policy “Promoting Leadership to Scale Up of Oral Rehydration Salts with Zinc Uptake and Reduce Diarrhea Mortality Globally in Children Under-5 Years,” which was adopted in 2018 (20181).

We have also been working to establish our presence as global MCH educators. In 2019, the GMCHN organized an APHA webinar entitled “New Policies to Reduce Diarrhea Mortality in Children Under Age 5 a Booster for Leadership and Advocacy,” which was attended by an international and domestic audience.

2. Tell us about yourselves.

Dr. Ify Udo currently serves as a Co-Chair for the Global Maternal and Child Health Network. Prior to this, she was a MCH Section Student Fellow with the MCH Health Section and later served as a Senior MCH Fellow. Ify is a global health professional with over 10 years’ experience in domestic and global maternal and child health. She is a Senior Public Health Advisor at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and currently serves as the PEPFAR Deputy Country Coordinator in Uganda.

Dr. Kathryn Mishkin has over 12 years of public health and women’s empowerment experience. A Fulbright alumna and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, she has cultivated her passion for maternal, infant, and child health and women’s rights through work in 13 countries. Like Ify, she started her APHA experience through the MCH Section’s Student Fellows program and also served as Senior Fellow. With the GMCHN, she led the development of APHA policy 20192 and contributed to the authorship of APHA policy 20181. In addition to serving as a Co-Chair of the GMCHN, she is a Maternal and Child Health Section Councilor and a Policy Committee Co-Chair in the Women’s Caucus. In her professional life, Kathryn serves as the Associate Director of Evaluation for March of Dimes.

3. What are your working group's goal(s) for the next year?

The GMCHN aims to increase the membership of its Steering Committee to engage members on diverse topics within global MCH. We welcome new members. Those interested in joining are encouraged to contact the Co-Chairs (contact information below):

At present, we are planning our Annual Meeting business meeting, which will be open to all APHA Annual Meeting attendees. We use this forum as a means for global MCH professionals and students to network, learn about the GMCHN, and identify opportunities to get involved.

The GMCHN will host an invited speaker session hosted via the APHA Global Health Office, entitled “COVID-19 & Outcomes Children’s Health for the Youngest Among Us: Global Response and Intervention in a Pandemic Public Health Emergency.” This session will discuss the prediction by development economists that ‘children are likely to be the most serious COVID 19 pandemic victims, describe the Better Care Network’s response for protection of children during the pandemic, and present global resources.

Members of GMCHN are working on advocating for APHA’s adoption of the Global Child Thrive Act (HR 4864), which is bipartisan U.S. legislation that aims to strengthen the implementation of policies that advance early childhood development internationally. The bill addresses physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development for children younger than eight years old.

In addition, members of the Network are planning on leading the authorship of a new APHA policy statement related to facilitating positive birth experiences in the global arena. A call for interest for those interested in joining the author team will be emailed out to the IH Section membership soon.

IH Section members who are interested in joining the Network’s listserv may contact the Co-Chairs of the Network: Ify Udo ifyudo@gmail.com and Kathryn Mishkin kemishkin@hotmail.com

Ify Udo (left) and Kathryn Mishkin (right)

If you would like more information about volunteering for this working group or any of our other working groups and committees, please contact us at ihsection.communications@gmail.com.

We are more capable of turning around our global health crisis than we think.

Kris Carr