Feed on

Policy matters!

I got an email from one of students  in California  enquiring about CUNY SPH programs.. I should take it take as compliment!  Things are moving great, fresh wind is flowing in CUNY.  I am also writing merits and demerits of every department in CUNY SPH. I will focus more on merits (strengths). Our Chancellor is great humanBeing and amazing leader!!

Recent initiatives taken by CUNY SPH for capstone projects and innovation awards is super example of one of policy changes. It will help students to grow their interest and passion in public health. I was exactly yearning for such changes in my time.

Dr. Diane Romero announced research opportunities for qualitative research and she even included Lehman College students. She won my heart! All campuses should get opportunities.

I am following CUNY SPH :)








Being located in the Bronx, being home to diverse group of population, Lehman college need  access to resources. Lehman college has potential to to address public health issues in the Bronx. For that, we need public health professionals. I am sure present dean and administration are already aware of the fact and their committment to fix it reflects in their recent action. For example, Dr.Sherry teaching global health and Dr.Lee teaching policy is sort of good news for Lehman college. I am in  DC here, the home of policy makers, and as an alumnus, I will do whatever in my capacity.  For example,  meeting policy makers and making them aware of our problems. I am sure their help in small drop could prove ocean for us. We are committed to make CUNY SPH with other top schools.

We need more new faculty. There are so many good students in Harvard, Columbia finishing their doctorates and doing fellowships. Why dont we catch them early. I was going through the profile of Dr.morgan philbin, working in HIV center, quite so interesting. She has been doing lot of good work, using both quantitative and qualitative skills. I can count many names on  my fingers and their interested research work.  I attended Dr.Welch presentation, why she is not assigned some epi courses in Lehman if she agreed to it. Students should go with skills in hand, not grades. Off course grades are important, however based on experience, skills matter a lot.That is what to do  more in actual scenario.

The same instructor teaching research method and capstone course (Especially we had complained so many times)  is not good for our students. We need instructors good at knowledge, communication, cultural competency and positively responsive to students concerns and question. No one on this earth is perfect, and no one is supposed to know everything. But there are ways to make students motivated and encouraged. Their few inappropriate words and actions can put them back in their career .

We need to connect dots in CUNY. I am glad it is happening.  CONTINUED..


Dear Dr.Barbot, estamos muy contentos de tenerte en CUNY. Usted está bien logrado en la salud pública, fuente de inspiración para nosotros. Su trabajo en Baltimore fue maravilloso. También queremos lo mismo para la ciudad de Nueva York. Bienvenida! Tenemos la suerte!!

Dr.Oxiris Barbot, fluent spanish speaker, is from the Bronx. That is also the reason I am pretty excited to meet her. I lived in various neighborhoods of Bronx and even had my public health education in the same Borough. Thanks to Dr.Alysson Model, I had my first ever presentation in American Public Health Association conference based on the work done in the Bornx. And in addition, I am getting better in Spanish day by day :)

I will be back!

Give me one week and  offer me some guidance (from the likes of Dr.Freudenberg,Dr.Mohandes, Dr.Galea, Dr.Nash) , I can come up with good manuscript. Unethical grant politics played by Dr.Tsui and former chair of Health Science department  can not halt my zeal for research. I will  add skills after skills, and I am hopeful that my passion for community health will be recognized someday. I will get opportunities, I will have opportunities.

There could be ramification of  all these tricks on students.  Is there any grant politics in research field? Yes! It seems apparently appropriate till and until it is healthy. As CUNY SPH alumnus, I honestly believe that things are improving a lot in Lehman college. Hope everyone, despite nationality or origin, will be well accommodated. The way former chair of health science department, former director of mph program and present campus director  played the ’ grant ’ politics  was unethical. Was it policy? The same faculty once told me of politics about grants at the institute where she received her PhD.


I am super busy in computer technology stuffs/Spanish and so, I could not write because of technology commitments lately. Though in capital city, I miss public health articles, epidemiology, journalism and medicine. SO I am sorry for short articles, will extend it later!

Its an honor for CUNY SPH that  Health Commissioner is offering lecture today and enlightening students with her rich experience in health policy.  Since American Public Health Associations  upcoming conference center around policy, it would be interesting to see what is stored for our school.

There are many projects DOH and CUNY SPH are collaborating on.

Under Dr.Basset’s remarkable and visionary guidance, Department of Health has handled Ebola very effectively and efficiently. The response of NYCDOH  deserve accloads from World Health organization and United Nations.

What do we wish from DOH?

1) I wish CUNY SPH is included in epi scholar program like other schools, 2) Students from our school get internship and career opportunities. 3) Working at DOH is really rich experience and can be turning-point  in career for many, so atleast creating volunteer opportunities  would be rewarding for our students and alumni.  4) GIS department of NYCDOH collaborate with Lehman College as it has wonderful GIS lab and GIS program. (Continued..)



My first unknown brush with Spanish language came when I learned first word “Bonita”, the word I picked up from the Madonna song” La isla Bonita”. When I moved to New York, I had few friends from Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. Visit to Cuba especially introduced me to real Latin culture. Recent warm gestures from both Cuban and American sides to improve ties may give an opportunity to look into that culture more precisely.

In New York I got chance to learn Mexican, Dominican and Puorto Rican communities. Now here, I am getting to know the people form Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru , Bolivia, Chile and Columbia. Despite having big Colombian community in New York, I think ,I didn’t get enough opportunity to mingle with them well.

My day start with Shakira’s spanish songs, I think she is one of the most global singers, especially she did concert all over the world on her song ‘Ojos Asi’.

It was  fun to dine here with Salvadorian family and then with Peruvian. Considering  Spanish speaking countries (excluding Spain) as homogenous culture or seeing all countries through same specs would be mistake. Perhaps ethnographers has more to add than geographers.  Though they speak same language, they are different in many ways.

What really strikes me is poverty in Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Poverty rates in Honduras, Guatemala and Bolivia are startling. Poverty headcount ratio at national poverty line in Honduras, Guatemala and Bolivia is respectively 64.5%, 53.7% and 45.3%. The same rate for  Salvador and Peru is 29.6% and 23.6% respectively.  Crime rates has been on rise and people who migrated (first generation) in the states struggle with communication problem(they speak only Spanish). For example, I met one person , perhaps in his 60s, haven’t been to Salvador for 15 years.  Though he talks to family often on phone, I arranged Skype call  to his daughter  , and honestly,it was beyond scope to predict his happiness to see her daughter on Skype. I think technology hasn’t reached to masses, i would say, blessing of technology.  Communication gap apparently keep them away from it. What ways can we fix it? Little things can big wonders sometimes, we need to plan technology awareness program among communities. In some ways, we will be contributing to global health and global community.

Ariong Moses is my good friend from Uganda. He is global health leader and potential leader for Uganda who would like to change global health dimensions of Uganda in positive ways!! Here is his article which he shared with me last week.

The Ebola Epidemic has claimed over 4,500 deaths since it began around January 2014. Most of its victims are allegedly the women who have endured the suffering of their loved ones as they writhe and die painfully. Heroes are being made every day in the worst hit countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia as medical workers – local and foreign, struggle to contain a ‘war’ that, if not well fought within the shortest time possible, might explode in to a 4th World War of sorts. The spread however continues at alarming rates with WHO warning that over 10,000 new infections per week will be recorded if greater efforts are not put in place within the next 2 months.

Several reasons have been alluded to the failure to contain the virus by the affected countries. It is a known fact that health systems in Africa have a lot to be desired especially in countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone. It would be unwise to ask of them to handle a crisis of this nature to its logical conclusion knowing that any failures will be felt by the rest of the world.

Support has been obtained from USA, UK, China and many other nations to combat Ebola. We should however note that West Africa does not simply need some support, the people of West Africa and the rest of the world need Ebola to be dealt with to its logical conclusion. This Crisis has instilled fear among the people around the world as much as Terrorism has. Infact, a Student from sierra Leone was denied accommodation in Newcastle by three Landlords due to the fear of Ebola – I call it Ebophobia. Being black itself is now associated with Ebola in some parts of the world with the thinking that one might be coming from the hotspots of Ebola, Africa.

The mind boggling question though is that terrorism is being fought world over for a similar reason- to avoid deaths and fear that it brings to the innocent people around the world. A lot of resources are usually committed for this cause and countries are willing to unite and find the terrorists wherever they are. It is the reason my country Uganda contributed troops to fight in Somalia and recently South Sudan so as to stem any terrorist acts around the world. It is clear that Ebola is among these categories, claiming over 2000 lives within 06 months at an alarming death rate of 70%. Why is the world not doing enough to unite against Ebola? Several reports by WHO and other organisations on the ground indicate that the response has been slow as compared to the situation on the ground.

Well, one may be tempted to think that the world does not care much about those in this predicament. These are the sort of thoughts that run through a desperate mind. These are the thoughts that are running through thousands of people living in quarantined areas, faced with looming food shortages that could cost lives.

If the world is truly a Global Village, we should view the plight of the people of West Africa as our own. Let’s not give opportunity to those who need an excuse to humiliate black people around the world in the name of Ebola. Joyous will that day be when the mothers of West Africa stop crying for the loss of their children. I believe it is time to act and end Ebola!

Why Growing Old is admirable no more in many parts of the world.

The word ‘old’ used to be synonymous with the words; respect, wisdom, intelligence, experience, seniority, blessings, leadership as well as being a preserve of those blessed by God –  a belief among those who acknowledge presence of a supreme being.  Old persons (The elderly) were seen as a source of inspiration and were responsible for nurturing future generations based on their long life experiences with the notion “Experience is the best teacher” being widely accepted.

My father once told me of how his Grandfather handed over a special gift of his to his Son (My Grandfather), a gift that he had attained through several years of learning and practice. He took his Son to a place with many trees and shrubs and pointed at them. He asked, “Do you see all those Cattle and property all over this place?. There was obviously no wealth visible among this shrubs and bushes. My Great Grandfather was a medicine man just like many other persons at the time who had discovered medicinal properties of the elements of nature, the special gift that God had given to them. To him (The Great Grand), these were the ‘cattle’ and property that he was passing on to his Son, my Grandfather. Through practicing traditional medicine, he was able to raise his family and educate some of his children.


The African greats like Nelson Mandela (RIP), Desmond Tutu, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Mzee Arap Moi of Kenya, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Tata Awayo Mary of Uganda among others, have continued to inspire the current and the future generations in ways that I cannot explain due to the magnitude of its effect.

By now, I guess you (the reader) is asking yourself why you have not heard about the so called great Tata Awayo of Uganda. Awayo is a deaf and dumb neighbor of mind in the Town of Soroti, Eastern Uganda. She is about 75 years old and leaves alone in a grass thatched mud and wattle house. Awayo did not learn the sign language from any special needs training centre due to the challenges in Uganda’s education system that we ought to know by now.

With a smile on her face, Amojong Awayo waves me good bye almost every morning as I go to work but as well welcomes be back from the long day’s work. Awayo has been neglected by her own children and family members who fear to shoulder the burden of taking care of the now old and needy Awayo. Because the  world has turned its back on her, she has to wake up very early in the mornings to show her love to everyone passing around (especially me) as she begs for; a daily meal to keep her precious life going, support for medical care to mitigate the now chronic illnesses that she has, emergency roofing of her hut that leaks now and then when it rains heavily, for Love and companionship when she is lonely and needs to be heard just like any other human being and the list goes on and on.

On the day the Hybrid Solar Eclipse caught the attention of almost every individual in Awayos’ vicinity, she was left wondering why it was not shining as it was supposed to be – I learnt this through the crude sign language interactions that I held with her. I tried to explain to her that the moon was passing below the sun and covering its rays from reaching earth, it was a hard one to explain but I made my point by showing her the eclipse using a film strip. Awayo had a hearty laugh and pated me on the back as she was expressing her deep appreciation of my intervention to address the ‘mystery’.

Awayo Mary and several other old persons are being abandoned by us, the able and productive group in the society. I learnt that even in developed countries, the elderly are treated like Animals and are dumped in care centres. Why the hell would I dump my mother or my father or any of my close relatives that brought me up and natured me, to a care centre?  And to make it worse, some relatives never bother to check on them and give them the Love and company that every human being inherently deserves. I recently read an article where robots are being developed to care for the elderly, to feed them, to move them around and to “give them some Love”. This killed me internally and made me wonder where the human race is heading to.

As I blog about this, I am shedding invisible tears because of the old men and women that I have seen rotting away with Jiggers and several other treatable illnesses in my own home country, Uganda. They are given names like ‘the father of jiggers’, ‘a cursed old man or woman’, beggars among others.  The health service providers have as well focused their attention on mothers and children leaving the elderly to be ‘hosts’ to several diseases as they die and disappear slowly from the face of the earth.

Who will mentor us? Who will bridge the past and the present future for the good of the current generation and the future? Who will inspire us with those lovely old age stories and remind us of the struggle that our forefathers went through to achieve what we are enjoying today?

President Obama, while eulogizing Tata Madiba (Nelson Mandela), said that we will never see a person like Mandela again. It’s true that Madiba has passed on with all his brilliance and courage, but we still have a role to play to emulate his works, to fight for Justice for all, to respect and adore humanity and to preserve the unique brains that we have among our elderly persons. Let’s give ourselves a reason to live long and inspire the world without fear that our very own will abandon us in time to come.






Authors: Wendy Huebner , Asif Patel,  Andrea Polk-Stephenson , Howell Sasser  and Erica E. Smith

From the Chair: Ebola—The New Normal
From the Secretary: Leading by Example—The Importance of Risk Communication
Fall 2014 Update in Epidemiology Education
Polio Eradication: Progress and Challenges
One of the Greats: A Tribute to Mervyn Susser

From the Chair: Ebola: The New Normal

The news today reports that a Liberian man who developed symptoms of Ebola fever after flying to Texas has died. Various other “mini-outbreaks” in the U.S. and Europe – as well as the still-growing index event in West Africa – continue to appear on front pages and TV screens around the world. And just this morning, my employer’s Employee Assistance Program sent me an email entitled, “Ebola: What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself.”

I will leave it to my readers to fill in appropriate thoughts about the case-to- coverage ratio, and about what might happen if similar attention were directed toward any of many public health problems that are much larger but which routinely go begging for prevention and treatment dollars, let alone face time on MSNBC AND Fox News. Instead, I will offer a few thoughts on what this and other high-profile communicable disease events mean for how we work and how we think.

Numerators and denominators are largely imaginary numbers. It is perhaps a bit ironic that this year’s APHA Annual Meeting theme is “Healthography” (subtitled, “How where you live affects your health and well-being”). Place nowadays seems to have less to do with the traditional combination of agent, host and environment, than with things like proximity to airports and interstate freeways. Ease – and rapidity – of movement puts a large but poorly defined portion of the population in

the (potential) hot zone. Counting cases and calculating rates becomes a vexed topic, and forecasting is little better than guessing.

Public health becomes a police issue (again). It has been announced again lately that airport security screens in various places would begin to include remote temperature measurement, presumably by infrared sensing, as a means of identifying carriers of communicable diseases. The impulse is understandable, and it is probably too much to expect that available technology not be used when disease may be prevented and perhaps lives saved. Still, the lack of specificity, the lack of professional training and discretion on the part of those doing the screening, and the coercive nature of the whole process seems at odds with the public health ethos. Can anyone imagine doing something similar for HIV, or HPV, or anything else not getting 24/7 coverage? Ask me again when we have remote scans for pre-diabetes or prostate cancer…

Prevention gets lost, and then found again. In the heat of the moment, the public health heroes are all wearing inflatable plastic suits. “What do we do now?” drowns out “What could we have done to prevent this?” When patients are already in the beds, a multi-thousand-dollar treatment sounds a lot more reasonable than it does when public health budgets are being discussed. But all of this passes. When the news cycle moves on, a return to a focus on prevention is the — reassuring — constant. May the present outbreak burn itself out rapidly and become less a parade of plastic suits and more a topic for education.

From the Secretary
Leading by Example: The Importance of Risk Communication

On Sept. 30, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Dallas County Health & Human Services announced the first laboratory-confirmed Ebola case diagnosed in the United States (http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/s930-ebola-confirmed-case.html). The hours that followed exemplify the 24-hour news cycle in which we currently live. In some cases, media consultants and experts provided clear and accurate commentary on the situation at hand. In others, a variety of factors contributed to misinformation and speculation. In the new age of “viral” stories, sound bytes and social media, an “outbreak” of misinformation can be almost as dangerous as the true outbreak being described.

As epidemiologists, we are often in a unique position during public health emergencies — one that can become particularly relevant in the early hours of any outbreak investigation, when publicly available information may be limited, and fear and speculation can spread quickly. We understand public health and epidemiologic principles, as well as outbreak investigation and contact tracing. We frequently negotiate the delicate balance between agency transparency and patient confidentiality. This is where grassroots communication comes into play. Even in

our own social circles, we can lead by example to promulgate more accurate information and try to quell rumors and speculation.

Although many of us have no direct role in the current case follow-up and contact tracing in Texas, risk communication is key in any emergency situation. Staying informed is crucial, and an excellent source “related to emergency preparedness and response and emerging public health threats” is CDC’s Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity, or COCA) “COCA prepares clinicians to respond to emerging health threats and public health emergencies by communicating relevant, timely information related to disease outbreaks, disasters, terrorism events and other health alerts.” For more information and to subscribe,

visit http://www.bt.cdc.gov/coca/. Not all of us are specialists in risk communication, but CDC also provides some excellent resources on Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (http://emergency.cdc.gov/cerc/index.asp) and Social Media Tools, Guidelines and Best Practices (http://www.cdc.gov/socialmedia/tools/guidelines/socialmediatoolkit.html).

As CDC DirectornTom Frieden, MD, MPH, stated in the CDC’s September 30 news release, “Ebola can be scary. But there’s all the difference in the world between the U.S. and parts of Africa where Ebola is spreading. The United States has a strong health care system and public health professionals who will make sure this case does not threaten our communities. While it is not impossible that there could be additional cases associated with this patient in the coming weeks, I have no doubt that we will contain this.”

Without clairvoyance we cannot predict the future of Ebola in the United States or the world, but an emphasis on good risk communication strategies can benefit all of us, whether we are talking about Ebola or any other situation.

Erica Smith,
Secretary, Epidemiology Section

Fall 2014 Update in Epidemiology Education

The Epidemiology Education Committee welcomes you to our corner. The Committee’s goal is to support efforts to increase and enhance epidemiology education for key target groups. These groups include the public health workforce, public health policymakers, the media, the general public, and our youth and their teachers. We will report activities and events that address one or more of these groups. Let us know if you have any such news to include in the EE Corner.

Using Smartphone Technologies in Undergraduate Epidemiology Classes

This article is written by Jeffrey Bethel, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at Oregon State University, College of Public Health and Human Sciences. As a member of the Epidemiology Education Committee, he is responding to the Committee’s desire to share information about using technology in the epidemiology classroom.

I was looking for a way to better engage the roughly 80 students in my undergraduate introduction to epidemiology course. Having heard of a few student engagement and response systems used by colleagues, I wanted to use one that utilized cell phones since cell phones had been a point of contention in the classroom. If you can’t get students off their phones, use the phones in class! I decided to use Top Hat (https://tophat.com/), which was touted as a way to transform students’ mobile devices into powerful classroom engagement tools. Students took their weekly quizzes on Top Hat rather than in paper form. This eliminated manual grading, saved paper, provided me with instant feedback, allowed students to view their scores in a timely manner, and stored all quizzes online for students to review at their leisure. No passing back quizzes that students may misplace. I also used Top Hat to assess student comprehension during lectures and used the instant feedback to review certain concepts in greater detail. Students also completed in-class exercises in groups and submitted their responses using Top Hat. These exercises were also available online for students to review in preparation for exams. After some difficulty getting students registered for Top Hat, the class quickly became adept at using the software that was available on smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Connectivity was rarely an issue. Student feedback was generally positive — they liked having access to quizzes and in-class exercises and really liked that it saved a large amount of paper. The consistent criticism was that they felt the added cost, while quite modest ($20), was unfair given they had already paid tuition and fees. Overall, my first experience using student engagement and response systems was positive. With a few tweaks, I believe I can more effectively use Top Hat to improve student learning in the future. Looking ahead, I am hoping to incorporate additional technology that could be used for data collection exercises in the epidemiology classroom to simulate real world experience in administering surveys. Contact: Jeff.Bethel@oregonstate.edu

High School Standards For Epidemiology — Update on Tennessee’s program

In the Spring 2013 and Summer 2014 newsletters, we reported that there were three states that have adopted high school standards focused on public health and epidemiology. Here is more about what is happening in Tennessee, written by Sheila Carlton, RN, MSN, who is at the Tennessee Department of Education’s Division of Career and Technical Education, and is working at the forefront of developing these standards as the Health Science, Law, Public Safety, Correction and Security, Government and Public Administration Career Cluster Consultant.

The Tennessee Department of Education’s Division of Career and Technical Education is excited to provide health science students and teachers the opportunity to expand the knowledge of public health across our state’s high schools. Our research found Americans’ overall health is on the decline in all areas, from very rural to dense metropolitan communities. To ensure that we were preparing our

students to meet the needs in this field, the Public Health program of study, or POS, was developed.

Within this POS, students will examine why and how the increase in chronic conditions impact and influence not only individuals, but also the health of their communities and the public. Course content includes: knowledge and skills to help communities prepare for and respond to disaster; public health problems and strategies for alleviating them; tools to evaluate the rise in mental health diseases and disorders; and the examination of how the health of the United States is related to larger global health issues. Upon completion of this POS, students will be prepared for advanced study at the postsecondary level in the areas of epidemiology, health policy and similar public health-related fields.

Currently, four schools will be offering the public health POS in the first year it is available. Three schools are located in small rural communities and one in a metropolitan area. “We are seeing unhealthily individuals in our community,” says one health science teacher, “If our students can become disease detectives in the Epidemiology course, possibly they can change their own community’s health.” The department is currently developing a resource toolkit to support teachers of these new courses. To share resources that will be valuable for these teachers, or learn more about the courses, please

visit http://www.state.tn.us/education/cte/HealthScience.shtml or email Sheila Carlton, Tennessee Career Cluster Consultant for Health Science Education,
at Sheila.Carlton@tn.gov.

Looking for epidemiology teaching materials for the Undergraduate and Graduate level? Here are a few URLs that link to epidemiology education resources suitable for post-secondary students. For a more extensive list of links to this and other target student groups, go to http://www.epiedmovement.org and click on “Links for Teaching Material.”

  • Deadly Outbreaks — How medical detectives save lives threatened by killer pandemics, exotic viruses and drug-resistant parasites — A book by Alexandra M Levitt in conjunction with the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. This book project is “intended to provide the next generation of young people attracted to the fields of math and science with an exciting and worthwhile career option…”
  • North Carolina Center for Public Health Preparedness — University of North Carolina
  • Tephinet — A professional alliance of field epidemiology training programs, or FETP, in 32 countries, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Epidemiology Case Studies, Epidemiology Intelligence Sevice (EIS) — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Understanding the Fundamentals of Epidemiology — an Evolving Text, Victor J. Schoenbach, Department of Epidemiology, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (versión en

español: Comprendiendo los Fundamentos de la Epidemiología — un

Texto en Desarrollo)
• Epiville — Developed by the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia


Polio Eradication: Progress and Challenges

As a consultant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Center for Global Health, Global Immunization Division, I was privileged to be a part of a worldwide initiative to eradicate polio. I wanted to share some of what I learned so we can better understand polio epidemiology, prevention and the efforts to stop transmission of this cruel and preventable disease.

Polio is a viral infection that is usually recognized by the acute onset of flaccid paralysis caused by poliovirus types 1, 2 and 3.1 Less than 1 percent of cases result in flaccid paralysis, and the vast majority of cases go undetected.1 Poliovirus can be isolated from stool, cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, and oropharyngeal samples, and from environmental (sewage) sampling. Transmission is generally through the fecal-oral route.1

Polio transmission has never been interrupted in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. In 2013 and 2014, outbreaks occurred in the Horn of Africa, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Syria and Iraq — all previously polio-free countries.2

Poliovirus can invade the brain and spinal cord of infected individuals and can result in permanent paralysis and, rarely, death. There is no cure, but safe and effective vaccines are available. Therefore, the strategy to eradicate polio is based on preventing infection by immunizing every child through routine immunization, supplemental immunization activities and/or “mop-up” vaccination campaigns in geographically-restricted areas following the identification of a case. Another cornerstone of the eradication effort is timely and sensitive clinical surveillance so that every case can be detected.2

There has been great progress since 1988 when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched, and the number of annual polio cases has decreased by >99 percent. The World Health Organization, Rotary International, CDC, and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund are spearheading GPEI partners.3 The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is also a critical partner in polio eradication activities. CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center in response to the 2012 World Health Assembly declaration that the completion of polio eradication was a programmatic emergency for public health.

In the United States, the CDC recommends the following:
The poliovirus vaccine used in the U.S. is inactivated poliovirus vaccine, or IPV. IPV is injected into the leg or arm and often given when other vaccines are administered.

It is routinely administered to children who get four doses at 2 months, 4 months, 6- 18 months, and a booster dose at 4-6 years.4

The polio program has made extraordinary progress, “The number of worldwide polio cases has fallen from an estimated 350,000 in 1988 to 407 in 2013 — a decline of more than 99 percent in reported cases.”5 Additionally, four regions of the world are certified polio free — the Americas, Europe, Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific. Within the remaining regions, only three polio-endemic countries (countries that have never interrupted the transmission of wild poliovirus) remain — Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

However, there are challenges to the program in a number of countries. Difficulties persist in finding chronically missed children, obtaining parental consent to vaccinate children, and accessing children in areas of insecurity.

GPEI partners and other organizations continue to deploy staff, vaccine and other resources to countries around the world. As travel and trade have been globalized, we must be vigilant at home and abroad.

Further information on the Polio Eradication Initiative can be found at http://www.polioeradication.org/Home.aspx.

1. Heyman, David L, Ed, Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, 19th ed.

APHA Press, 2008 p 484.
2. http://www.cdc.gov/polio/
3. http://www.polioeradication.org/AboutUs.aspx
4. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/polio/dis-faqs.htm 5. http://www.cdc.gov/polio/progress/index.htm

One of the Greats: A Tribute to Mervyn Susser

One of the important chapters of epidemiology ended with the passing of Dr. Mervyn Susser on August 14, 2014. Dr. Susser’s work influenced a whole generation of epidemiologists and will no doubt inspire many generations in the future.

Dr. Susser’s contributions to public health began in the 1950s in South Africa, where he was a supporter of Nelson Mandela during the anti-Apartheid movement. Dr. Susser had many publications with his wife, Dr. Zena Stein; both were vocal opponents of Apartheid, and in 1955 they co-published “Medical Care in a South African Township,” which focused on community-oriented primary care in South Africa and was published in the Lancet.

Because of political pressure and his outspoken opposition to Apartheid, Dr. Susser moved from South Africa to England and then to the United States, where he joined Columbia University as the chair of the division of epidemiology in 1966. Dr. Susser’s most influential work, “Causal Thinking in the Health Sciences: Concepts and Strategies of Epidemiology,” was published in 1973 and focused on the emerging discipline-wide paradigm shift from infectious disease to chronic disease epidemiology. Later contributions of Dr. Susser and Dr. Stein during the 1980s focused on the then newly emerging disease HIV/AIDS and included the identification of women, not just men who have sex with men, as at-risk for HIV/AIDS. Dr. Susser was also the editor of the American Journal of Public Health between 1992 and 1998. Recognizing his numerous contributions to epidemiology, the APHA Epidemiology Section bestowed him with the John Snow Award. He will be long remembered for his many contributions to the fields of epidemiology and public health.

To read the entire New York Times obituary, please visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/27/us/mervyn-susser-92-dies-studied-illness- and-society.html?_r=0




I have a huge respect for dedicated and hardworking researchers; they serve for community, humanity and make life easier . After a long time, I visited Columbia University and attended important lecture by Dr.Nash. Actually it was the same topic what I attended two months ago. I wondered how much time both researchers Dr.Nash and Dr.Irvine have invested in this research which has immense potential to influence policies centering around HIV. I again used an opportunity to ask question. Since viral load is the clinical outcome, my follow up question to the presentation had logical substance.  I haven’t read their recent publication, but will go through it next week. I am keeping my curiosity intact to read specially methods, sample size, and type of study, setting, strength and limitations of this study.

Research study the past, lives in present and predict the future when they get all information about past and present. Applying predictor models they keep past and present in proper places, and building on both , they postulates theory. To prove the theory again, they apply their all skills. Researchers gives us a wisp of possibility, or wisp of uncertainty, it also gives us a hint of potential danger or potential calamity. Ongoing research in medicine and health definitely brought mortality, morbidity, and disability rates down significantly. In old scripture, there is mentioning of plague, which used to annihilate big towns and cities in very short duration. Thanks to scientific research, there is no any major outbreak since world war second where death numbers could have piled up in hundred thousands.

We CUNY SPH stakeholders fortunately have umbrella of wonderful research. Here I would like to give examples of quite of few researchers from CUNY School of Public Health. Dr.Freudenberg has taken CUNY healthy initiative and now we have smoking policy implemented in all CUNY campuses. Dr.Nash research on HIV is giving new hope to people in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially Rwanda. Dr.Jessie Daniel has been using technology to the hilt for her innovative research. Dr.Johnson and Dr.Maroko are applying GIS KNOWDEGE to improve the environment. Dr.Thorpe is also contributing to the positive aspect of health by doing research on pests and insects, which are triggering factor for asthma. Dr.Molina and Dr.Borrell are working on reducing disparity and making health equitable to all. A month ago I received survey about toys in MacDonald, and now I heard that McDonald has removed toys from its facilities as toys can cause choking among children .Dr.Freudenbeurg’s and Dr.Poppendick’s   crusade against fast food is really commendable. Dr.Platkin is adding the layer of his judicial knowledge make it happen. Dr.Huynh is investing her time in maternal/child health and Dr.Tsui, who happens to be my inspiration in light of research, is facilitator of qualitative research and program designing.

I like asking question and stimulating discussion. Question usually comes out of curiosity and desire, it also comes out of passion for gaining knowledge and desire to use opportunity to the hilt. So far I might have asked more than thousands questions in the United States. Honestly, it has really helped me to  work on communication skills. I think it is my hobby, so to further nourish it; I have started working in the Department of Health where I deal with interviews.

Older Posts »