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UBUNTU: “I Am Because We Are”: Building a Professional Community for Black Ladies in Public Health

10 Aug

“Public Health provides an aspirational combination of interdisciplinary work, purpose that far exceeds profits, and an opportunity to make real, tangible, change in the world. For Black women, choosing a career in Public Health often guarantees these ambitions juxtaposed to unique complexities of identity and the profession.

Consider a black woman working in Public Health, undoubtedly, she understands [and is constantly reminded] of her membership in populations often disproportionately affected by disease and death. Simultaneously, she bears witness to the occupational penalty, documented as wage gaps and concrete ceilings, despite extraordinary educational achievements. Consequently, these misfortunes are exacerbated with additional intersections of marginalized identity (disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, immigrant population, etc.).

If the data about our population tells us anything, it’s that health and occupational inequities are real experiences for Black women. However, we address these issues as mutually exclusive paradigms that should neither coalesce nor affect public health success. While this is expected, Black women are left to navigate these issues alone.

Black Ladies in Public Health (BLiPH) grew out of this double consciousness. BLiPH created a place nestled between the professional and personal woes of occupational and health inequity. We provide safe-space that does not yet exist in the broader world. BLiPH is the sanctuary where we unpack issues out in the open, through healthy discourse and transformational thinking. We are honest and vulnerable in ways that are restorative to the collective; even the things left unspoken are often understood. We strive to add a more personable approach to engaging and elevating members. We have curated an environment where our identity, our experiences, our education, and our vision are central to the solutions that will transform our realities. We are literally leveraging our status as Black Ladies in Public Health to positively impact the health and success of Black Ladies around the world.”

Dr. Jasmine Ward

Black Ladies in Public Health (BLiPH) was conceived August of 2016, by Dr. Jasmine Ward to create a virtual space to cultivate relationships and promote collaboration in public health scholarship and service. However, the most valuable characteristic of BLiPH became (1) the restorative nature of personal and professional discourse about issues related to public health and (2) the collective resolve to place self-care central to the ideology of the group.

Now approaching the second anniversary, BLiPH is working towards the vision of realizing a more engaged, valued, and empowered membership! BLiPH engages approximately 7,000 members on five social media platforms and fourteen private groups. Top representation comes from cities such as Atlanta, GA, Washington, DC, New York, NY, Baltimore, MD, Philadelphia, PA, Chicago, IL, Houston, TX, Birmingham, AL, New Orleans, LA, and Boston, MA. Most members are based in the United States, however, approximately 10% represent the global community of public health. Top represented countries outside of US include South Africa, Zambia, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Kenya, Canada, Botswana, Ghana, and Uganda.

BLiPH has formally hosted nineteen local networking events, five webinars, several live sessions, and a signature networking social during the 2017 APHA conference. Moving beyond the networking and professional development activities, 2018 ushered in new beginnings, including the start of BLiPH research and service initiatives. One early example includes a digital marketing campaign conducted in February and March of 2018, during Black history and women’s history months, respectively. The campaign — the E.V.E. Awards — was a first attempt to officially recognize and honor Black Ladies in Public Health, past and present.

As the founder, Dr. Ward has been recognized for her commitment to digital social solutions that support collective impact. In 2018, she was accepted to seven professional public health conferences and several community events across the United States. She received national press recognition, a variety of awards, and most recently, a grant to pilot BLiPH focused research. Representing BLiPH, Dr. Ward has provided consulting and technical assistance to public and private-sector organizations with training focused on social media engagement, grant writing, and cultivating cultural competence in public health workforce development.

BLiPH is beta testing, evaluating, and improving our new-forever home; BLiPH.org. BLiPH.org is positioned to catalyze the growth of the BLiPH network and support the actionable pursuit toward the elimination of occupational and health inequities. BLiPH continues to develop innovative digital strategies to address and engage collective interest of the membership. Activities include:

  • Demystifying the work of public health professionals (particularly in the Black community),
  • Recognizing current and historical contributions of our foremothers,
  • Forming professional/leadership development opportunities,
  • Creating access to culturally responsive public health training,
  • Building mentor/mentee relationships,
  • Crowdsourcing public health solutions,
  • Defining health policies,
  • Hosting networking events,
  • Addressing issues that disproportionally impact the health of Black people, women, and more specifically, Black women.

Be sure to look out for BLiPH at the Society for the Analysis of African American Public Health Issues (SAAPHI) 2018 conference in San Diego, where they will highlight organizations using digital platforms to address public health through a social justice lens. We will also host the second annual BLiPH networking social at Sparks Gallery on November 11th, immediately following the APHA opening session. (Doors open at 7pm)Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – @BLiPH16, #BLiPH16 or #BliPH

For more information about BLiPH please email Dr. Jasmine Ward at ladyjward@bliph.org.

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Doctors See Success at Butaro Cancer Center

11 Jun
PIH feature

Photos by Cecille Joan Avila / Partners In Health

 

Dr. Cyprien Shyirambere examines 6-year-old pediatric oncology patient Frank Mugisha, whose name has been changed, for privacy, at the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence in rural northern Rwanda. Medical staff at the PIH-supported facility have treated several thousand patients, young and old, since it opened in 2012.

Five years after opening, the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence is achieving extraordinary successes in rural northern Rwanda, amid daunting challenges.

Doctors at the Partners In Health-supported facility are treating about 1,700 patients every year, young and old, on the campus of the public Butaro District Hospital. The campus lies amid lush, green hills in a remote region not far from the Ugandan border. Many patients, family members, and caregivers travel to Butaro from across Rwanda or from surrounding countries such as Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where high-quality cancer care is scarce or nonexistent.

Some of Butaro’s greatest successes can be found in its youngest visitors—children who come to the cancer center with slim hopes buoyed by fighting spirits, often with cancer that is in late stages because of treatment delays or misdiagnoses elsewhere.

Patients in the pediatric ward last spring included Frank Mugisha, 6. In March, Frank completed 30 months of treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia and could be seen around Butaro playing and spending time with family members. Butaro staff will continue monitoring him for the next five years.

Dugan, who’s been a clinical officer in Butaro’s pediatric cancer ward for about a year, said relapse is a constant concern.

“It takes a long period of follow-up to be sure you’ve really cured someone,” she said.

Frank’s story is one of hundreds.

Inside the pediatric ward at the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence, a PIH-supported facility at Butaro District Hospital in rural northern Rwanda. Children in the ward often mix in schoolwork, activities, and playtime between treatment and checkups.

While Butaro is very successful, a shortage of health care workers is a key challenge – one that severely impacts Africa. Butaro’s staff often is boosted with support from Dana-Farber and PIH programs.

Jen Haley, for example, is a former Dana-Farber cancer nurse who worked at Butaro as an oncology nurse educator from September to December 2016, through a PIH program.

Haley said she helped nurses at Butaro learn to watch for symptoms at various treatment levels, improve the overall quality of treatment, and educate patients’ families and caregivers about cancer and related care.

“Kids are so resilient. One minute you’re giving them a shot and the next minute they’re running up and giving you a hug,” Haley said.

Butaro’s staff has to be equally resilient, amid limited resources.

They don’t have a CAT scanner, an intensive care unit, or enough nurses. Stocks sometimes run out of needed medicines, and radiotherapy machines are a distant hope.

Shyirambere said he draws strength from successes. Treating children with cancer can be incredibly emotional, he said, but the reward is seeing young patients come back for positive follow-ups, return to school, and resume healthy childhoods.

“You feel like your day has been excellent,” he said.

SAAPHI would like to thank Partners in Health (PIH) for their great work in Rwanda and other parts of the world.

This is an abridged version of an impact story that was originally published in September 2017 at https://www.pih.org/article/doctors-see-daily-success-butaro-cancer-center. Check out this photo gallery to see more images from Butaro’s pediatric cancer ward. Also, be on the look out for more SAAPHI and PIH webinars to learn more about their global public health work and look out for job opportunities from PIH from the SAAPHI listserv.

SAAPHI Member Spotlight

29 Apr

SAAPHI Member Spotlight

this could be you

We realize that our diverse, distinguished, academically active and professionally engaged members are a valuable resource. Our highly active listserv shows exactly how informed our members are. For this reason, we encourage our members to become more actively involved in our network, by attending our annual meetings and mixers.

Through our new Member Spotlight section of the newsletter, we are offering another opportunity for our members to get-to-know-each-other, and more importantly identify those who share the same interests. In each biannual newsletter we will highlight SAAPHI members.

If you are interested in taking the spotlight, please contact saaphicommunications@gmail.com for an application.

SAAPHI Releases New Video Highlighting Who We Are…

4 Sep

SAAPHI LogoWho We Are — The Society for the Analysis of African American Public Health Issues

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: SAAPHI Biannual Newsletter

22 Apr

The Society for the Analysis of African American Public Health Issues

SAAPHI is currently accepting submissions for it’s newsletter. The next issue will be released in June 2014.

All members of SAAPHI are welcomed to send submissions to the newsletter. We welcome submissions on ANY topic related to public health, particularly those that affect populations of African descent (African, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latino, Afro-European, Afro-Canadian).

Please see submission guidelines below:

Types of Submissions

Field Reports ( should not exceed 1,000 words)

Commentaries (should not exceed 800 words)

Essays (should not exceed 800 words)

Research Reports (should not exceed 1,000 words)

Book Reviews (should not exceed 1,000 words)

Announcements (should not exceed 500 words)

Recommended Topics

Policy analysis or thoughts on policy with public health implications

Professional development and career advice

Advocacy efforts; social activism

Summary of research findings

Discussions on public health initiatives

Announcements about or field reports from local, state, national, and international (particularly Pan-African) public health events

Announcements regarding Call for Papers for conferences, journals, etc.

Sharing insights about internships experiences (research, clinical, programmatic)

 Please include the following with your submission:  

Name

Affiliated institution (institution name, department, degree program, etc.)

Title of article

A headshot or picture of yourself engaging in public health work
Also, please follow these guidelines:  

12-point, Times New Roman font

Single spaced

List of references (if applicable)

Please email your article and any questions to saaphicommunications@gmail.com

We look forward to your submission! 

Submission Deadline – May 15, 2014

Call For Submissions for SAAPHI’s Inaugural Newsletter!

24 Sep

Image

The Society for the Analysis of African American Public Health Issues

SAAPHI is currently accepting submissions for it’s Inaugural newsletter. The

first issue of the quarterly newsletter, will be released in January 2014.

All members of SAAPHI are welcomed to send submissions to the newsletter. We welcome submissions on ANY topic related to public health, particularly those that affect populations of African descent (African, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latino, Afro-European, Afro-Canadian).

Please see submission guidelines below:

Types of Submissions

Field Reports ( should not exceed 1,000 words)

Commentaries (should not exceed 800 words)

Essays (should not exceed 800 words)

Research Reports (should not exceed 1,000 words)

Book Reviews (should not exceed 1,000 words)

Announcements (should not exceed 500 words)

Recommended Topics

Policy analysis or thoughts on policy with public health implications

Professional development and career advice

Advocacy efforts; social activism

Summary of research findings

Discussions on public health initiatives

Announcements about or field reports from local, state, national, and international (particularly Pan-African) public health events

Announcements regarding Call for Papers for conferences, journals, etc.

Sharing insights about internships experiences (research, clinical, programmatic)

 Please include the following with your submission:  

Name

Affiliated institution (institution name, department, degree program, etc.)

Title of article

A headshot or picture of yourself engaging in public health work
Also, please follow these guidelines:  

12-point, Times New Roman font

Single spaced

List of references (if applicable)

Please email your article and any questions to saaphicommunications@gmail.com

We look forward to your submission! 

Submission Deadline – December 1, 2013