Finding “Our Thing”

Right now our class is trying to find “our thing.” The class of 2013 helped launch the new Center for Primary Care at HMS, and the class of 2012 sparked the implementation of the HMS conflict-of-interest policy. In the class of 2014, a few of us, starting in Student Council, have been thinking of initiatives that our class can rally behind. One issue that has been thrown out there is global AIDS funding.

At the MGH Center for Global Health Inaugural Symposium last Friday, this issue of global AIDS funding was addressed by Senator John Kerry and Global AIDS coordinator, Ambassador Eric Goosby. During a panel session, a few Harvard medical and college students stood up to press Senator Kerry and Ambassador Goosby to publicly call for more global AIDS funding.

I captured their response on video, but I apologize for the terrible footage because I was recording with my iPhone. Here is what Ambassador Goosby said.

Here is Senator Kerry’s response, starting off by saying, “Let me first begin by thanking each of you who stood up and are here as activists. That’s where you begin.”

I’ve heard that medical students often don’t participate in activism because they’re too focused on their studies, but that has not been the case so far. In fact, I get the general feeling that medical students can’t wait to do something. There’s been a tremendous excitement to want to get out into the world and start making a difference. Individually we all have our own respective passion. But collectively that’s how we can make a difference.

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Comments
3 Responses to “Finding “Our Thing””
  1. Rebecca Hu says:

    I actually don’t feel that ample funding is the issue. Right now, one of the professors at my school is currently doing research on the situation in Africa and examining how despite ample funding, there has been limited success in slowing down the epidemic. Google Ann Swider, funding for AIDS for more information or check out http://sociology.berkeley.edu/profiles/swidler/.

    In terms of something to consider in terms of making a difference, what about cultural disparities? Have you ever read “The Spirit Falls Down and Catches You” by Anne Fadiman? One of the largest health disparities in our country is Hepatitis B. See SF Hep B Free for more information at http://www.sfhepbfree.org.

  2. Eric Lu says:

    Hi Rebecca, that’s a good point you make. I agree with you that funding has its limitations and that many other factors related to health care delivery, such as cultural or economic disparities, are important as well. I think it’ll be really cool to take Professor Swider’s studies into account because I think she makes some great points. I was an anthropology major so I am a big fan of her research. A lot more still needs to be done to make sure that appropriate care and treatment are delivered effectively to those in need, and to figure out why these efforts have not worked well in places like Botswana but has had more success in other places like Uganda.

    However I do think that funding is one important component, as PEPFAR and the Global Fund have been able to save 1.2 million people with HIV/AIDS in Africa, and a flat-line in funding for global AIDS will hamper efforts to sustain these programs and efforts. Simply, the access and availability of treatment have been enhanced. There’s a great oped by Desmond Tutu you can check out: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/21/opinion/21tutu.html

    But there’s more that needs to be done. PEPFAR and the Global Fund stemmed from the Harvard Consensus Statement in 2001 as a response to the cry for a more concerted effort to address HIV/AIDS. These programs are unprecedented in allowing a major push from the US and the rest of the world to really tackle this issue from a so-called “diagonal approach,” which focuses on treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS that allow the strengthening of health systems in general as a whole.

    And yes I am also a big fan of Anne Fadiman. The book you mentioned was actually a required summer reading for us. That’s another important issue you brought up and I will look more into it. Thanks!

  3. Marguerite Thorp says:

    Great footage, Eric! Thanks SO much for taking it! Hope you don’t mind that I mentioned it here – http://www.fundglobalaids.org/2010/11/demanding-commitment-from-us-global.html

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