Questions asked: Experiences of an Iranian at an oncology ward in Malawi

Questions asked: Experiences of an Iranian at an oncology ward in Malawi

  by Hedieh Mehrtash As members of a globalized world, our communities are increasingly connected by the shared burden and challenge of non-communicable diseases, cancer one of chief among them. My personal experience with family members plagued by cancer has driven a personal commitment to the global cancer care arena and #closingthecancerdivide. [1] After several observational experiences of cancer care in Iran, France and the United States, it is clear that cancer is a disease where finding the appropriate care and treatment is a global challenge. The next step in my journey led to me to Malawi this summer to work on my MPH summer practicum through Global Oncology, an NGO in Boston, and its ongoing collaboration with the oncology ward at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre, Malawi.    Arriving in Malawi     “What have I done?”  Having landed at the “fun-sized” airport, without the fancy jet bridges one sees elsewhere, and having completed the paper work, I was on my way to Blantyre city. As we passed through all the villages on the way, I was shocked by the degree of visible poverty, worried and ready to turn back. Questions kept running through my head: should I really be here? Would my presence as a foreigner be accepted? Will I be able to communicate with people? Once I arrived at the lodge, things took off as I met other students and my coworkers at the hospital; my fears soon forgotten.   Oncology ward 2A at QECH     Here I was, at one of the only public referral hospitals that consult cancer patients in the country....
Part III – Arab Americans in health: How do we get involved?

Part III – Arab Americans in health: How do we get involved?

  Part III in a 3-part series on Arab-American health and national engagement. By Serena Rasoul, Amira Mouna, and Reem Ghoneim The first article in our series, ‘Why are we missing?’, discussed the absence of Arab-American health data in the national dialogue on minority health and the repercussions of not being represented. The second article , ‘Why are we important?’, explored how our unique social determinants of health affect our health outcomes and, consequently, the diseases that we disproportionately suffer from- highlighting the need for specialized representation and targeted programming for Arab-Americans both on  the federal and state levels. Here, in the last article of our series, we will outline steps community leaders can take to ensure Arab-Americans are represented in national conversations, policies, and minority health initiatives. These steps are targeted towards members and leaders of the Arab-American health community, as well as those outside of the community that shape and advocate for minority health on a national level. Step 1: Identify Stakeholders The initial step to developing comprehensive representation of the community is to identify stakeholders, both within and outside of the Arab-American community, that are actively engaged in shaping health policies on all levels, from grassroots leaders to legislatures. Within the community, it is important to partner with established community organizations (health related or otherwise) and their leaders to participate in the conversation and leverage their influence for outreach activities. Additionally, as we pointed out in article 2, many of the health determinants of Arab-Americans are influenced by cultural and religious norms. Thus, approaching religious institutions and leaders would also be advantageous to gain a grassroots...

LENS profile: Dr Goran Zangana

  Welcome to the new LENS section of Global Health Middle East. LENS (Learn, Exchange, Network, Share) will be a regular feature, presenting short profiles of people working on the region. We will interview people from various disciplines and walks of life: academics, NGO workers, UN staff, bloggers, teachers, students, medical practitioners, community organisers and many others who are passionately working to improve the health and wellness of people in or from the Middle East region. If you would like to be interviewed or have a suggestion for an inspiring person that you would like us to approach, please contact Lenka Benova (lbenova7@gmail.com) or Mariam Bhacker (info@globalhealthmiddleeast.com) Our first LENS profile emerged from a chance interaction on the Health Systems Global LinkedIn group between Mariam and Goran Zangana, co-founder and president of the Health Policy Research Organization in Irbil, Iraq. Interested to find out more about Dr. Zangana’s work and his newly founded organization, we jumped at the opportunity to feature him in this new series. Goran Zangana, MBChB, MPH, PhD (Candidate)  What led you to a career in public health? When I started practicing as a doctor in Irbil city in 2003, I noticed that most of the diseases had social and community roots and determinants. So instead of treating individual cases and diseases it made more sense to me to target the whole population and try to solve the issues that are leading to illnesses. What was your first engagement/research project in the Middle East? My first engagement was through a randomized control trial to investigate the effectiveness of mental health interventions for torture survivors in Iraq. The research was done in...