Category Archives: International

Human Trafficking and Healthcare: Using a Public Health Approach to Combat and Prevent Human Trafficking

By Nathnael Mengistie

According to the International Labor Organization, human trafficking is the act of controlling or exploiting a person for sex, labor, or other services through fraud, force, or coercion. This grave human rights violation affected an estimated 20.9 million or more individuals worldwide in 2016. In recent years, however, numerous countries, including the United States, have passed different laws to combat this issue. In fact, on January 9th 2019, President Donald Trump signed into law the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), a law that aims to prevent human trafficking, protect victims, and punish offenders not only in the US, but also abroad. This legislation was first passed in 2000 and has since been expanded and reauthorized numerous times. This landmark anti-trafficking law formed the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, which publishes a yearly Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), and it also established the T-visa, which allows trafficking victims who came from outside the US to become permanent residents. Furthermore, the current administration has also authorized $430 million to fight human trafficking and passed additional laws, such as the Abolish Human Trafficking Act, which increases the prosecution of traffickers. Although these efforts are certainly commendable, American law regarding human trafficking still focuses on prosecution and fails to recognize the importance of a victim-centered approach to end this heinous crime. In fact, the Bureau of Justice Statistics stated that there was a 41% increase in the number of prosecutions for human trafficking offenses from 2011 to 2015, which illustrates the government’s focus on the criminal justice aspect of human trafficking. Although it is important to prosecute traffickers, members of the anti-trafficking movement should also focus on identifying human trafficking victims and providing long term support to human trafficking survivors. One of the reasons why this is not the case is because it is challenging to identify trafficking victims due to the obscure nature of the crime.  Nevertheless, framing human trafficking as a public health issue and increasing the involvement of healthcare professionals will not only allow us to identify trafficking victims and empower survivors, but also help us address the socio-economic determinants that facilitate human trafficking by working with policy makers, clinical professionals, law enforcement, and educators because human trafficking is a multifaceted problem. By using a public health approach to combat human trafficking and collaborating with different professionals, we are increasing our scope and our reach because public health is concerned with the well-being of entire populations and not just specific individuals.

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Dealing With the First Genetically-Edited Birth

By Shaffin Siddiqui

On November 25 of 2018, Chinese scientist He Jiankui announced one of most seminal  and controversial moments in the history of genetics: the birth of the first genetically-edited babies. According to an early report by the MIT Technology Review, the two twins, “Lulu and Nana, came crying into the world as healthy as any other babies.” Their birth, not only a biological landmark, has become the center of tremendous ethical debate.

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Little Creatures, Big Improvements: The Success Story of a Decreasing Newborn Mortality Rate

By MaryAnn Placheril

According to a recent UNICEF report, the newborn mortality rate in Bangladesh has significantly decreased.

Back in 1990, when the mortality rate was 64.2 for every 1,000 newborns, births were assisted by family members without medical training. In these conditions, asphyxia was the leading cause of newborn mortality. Asphyxia occurs when the body is deprived of oxygen and thus, cannot breathe and regulate its functions. This then leads to death. In newborns, asphyxia frequently occurred during difficult or obstructed labor, yet, the untrained family did not know how to prevent it or treat it. Their lack of medical expertise in these cases proved fatal.

To fight this common trend, the Bagladeshi government made a significant push against the problem in 2010. It opened centers for childbirth, trained personnel, and encouraged families to have births outside the home. Much of this development was funded by other governments, international organizations, and non-governmental aid groups. This technique proved successful for as described by the UNICEF report the rates have decreased and are predicted to continue to fall.

Bangladesh’s success shows that with monetary investment and governmental support, many health problems in developing countries are wholly treatable. Maybe in the future other medical problems will be solved!

The Injury You Cannot See: The Effects of the Refugee Crisis on the Rohingya Children

By MaryAnn Placheril

Bordering India and China, Myanmar is a mainly Buddhist country with a sizable Muslim minority, the Rohingya. However, the government of Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingya as citizens, leaving them stateless. For decades, Buddhists have systematically oppressed the Rohingya, but this oppression has recently been taken to the extreme. The Rohingya are now being forcibly removed from the country and killed, while their property is seized and villages burned. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has even called the situation a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

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Life Expectancy: Discrepancies, Outcomes, and Future Directions

By Ava Torjani

A recent study demonstrated a significant improvement in life expectancy among the least-expected countries, including Niger, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Gambia, Nepal, and Peru. These are low-income countries with relatively low access to and quality of healthcare. On the other hand, people in several high-income countries, including parts of the US, Greenland, and Russia are not living as long as expected. This article will explore the data presented by several studies, as well as the proposed reasons behind their findings.

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An Overlooked Consequence of Civil War: Mental Illness in Somalia

By Sirad Hassan

Somalia is a beautiful country of storytellers, poets, and nomads.

The history of the nation is troubled by the onset of a civil war that afflicted a tremendous amount of pain and trauma. Entire communities were disturbed by the continuous violence from the conflict; the direct cause of an unprecedented refugees crisis. Dadaab, along the border of Kenya and Somalia, is the largest refugee camp in the world—home to thousands of Somalis.

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The Global Community Behind Global Health

By Alison Herman

At the end of May, my 30-hour trip across the Atlantic ended at the Roberts International Airport in the middle of the night. Descending the staircase onto the airfield, I felt Monrovia’s balmy air begin to exacerbate my travel-induced exhaustion. Making my way past the camouflage-clad airport employees, I spotted the driver holding a “Partners in Health” sign.

Over the next 60 days, I would meet various coworkers, including a few Haitian doctors, a Nigerian doctor, a Rwandan biomedical engineer, and numerous Liberian colleagues working in finance, human resources, and medical capacities.

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Midwifery as a Means to Bridge Global Health’s Gender Gap

By Alison Herman

On June 17, midwives from 113 countries could be found parading through the streets of Toronto, marshalling in the annual International Confederation of Midwives congress. These essential practitioners do much to lead the march forward toward global development goals, providing life-saving care to mothers and infants. The investment and attention paid to these healthcare workers is not always commensurate with their value.

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