UVa Students Out to Solve World Health Problems

By: Matt Holmes Email
By: Matt Holmes Email

Friday November 7, 2008

Some students at UVa are looking beyond the boundaries of Charlottesville trying to make a global impact.

Whether it's Africa, Asia or even impoverished areas here in the United States, these students are taking their projects outside the classroom, trying to inspire some major public health changes.

"There are a thousand problems in the world," says Fourth Year Human Biology Evelyn Hall. "Why should we care about sexual violence?"

That's the question Hall sought to answer this summer as she spent nine weeks working with victims of sexual violence in rural South Africa.

"I learned a lot about [an] area that is very community-focused and in looking at those communities and trying to get those individuals to collectively change behaviors or change thoughts or change awareness," Hall says.

Her project was one of dozens on display Friday in the Rotunda as part of the Center for Global Health Symposium, a chance for students from a variety of majors to present their experiences.

"Some of them do independent study, some of them make it part of their thesis, some of them change what they're interested in entirely after this experience and decide to make global health a central part of their lives," explains Joy Boissevain with the Center for Global Health.

Faculty members say this is more a learning experience for the students and they don't expect these projects to make much difference.

Students like Hall say that's not necessarily the way it works out.

"Progress is never linear and it's never as big as you want it to be, but more people in that province are reporting rape than ever before and while it's still a problem, I think raising a consciousness about it is very much the first step."

Other projects presented at Friday's symposium:

Study of the Use of Telemedicine in Providing Healthcare in Rural Alaska
Financing the Medical Home: Case Study in New Orleans
Understanding and Improving Clay Water Filter Use in San Mateo Ixtatan, Guatemala
Striving to Cure the Curable: A Study of Malaria Education Methods in Ghana
Sexual Assault and its Assessment by the Judicial and Medical Sectors in Ethiopia
Water Purification System in South Africa
The Barriers of Women's Access to HIV Treatment in Limpopo Province, South Africa
An Assessment of Anemia and Nutrition in the Limpopo Province of South Africa
Contraceptive Practices among Women in Rural Tanzania
HIV/AIDS Counseling in China: A Human Cognitive Approach
Treating the Invisible: Access to Mental Healthcare for Sexually Trafficked Ethnic Minority Women and Children in Thailand

For more information on these projects and others presented at the symposium, click here.

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