For those who were not present Sunday July 29th, at 10pm, over drinks in Jinja, Uganda, here’s the full version of my response to the end of year assignment for Global Health Corps.
I am part of the global health movement because I believe in human rights. I believe we are all guaranteed the same access to the highest attainable health, education, and equal access to information. The right to health is more than just access to medicine and doctors, health is access to education and information.
I started out as an anthropologist. The world defined by the people in it. And the more I learned about the people in it, the more I became interested in advocacy and justice. After undergrad, I was a community organizer, an educator, a children’s rights advocate and I drifted further into human rights, with a mild interest in law. During graduate school, my mild interest became a serious interest in post conflict reconciliation and understanding how we attempt to create peaceful transitions.
It was also during grad school that I firmly became a techie and started teaching software at every opportunity.
That’s where the global health movement comes in. Health isn’t just about doctors prescribing medicine, or even patients accessing health care centers, its bigger than that. All fields converge in health, including mine; education, transitional reconstruction, advocacy, and technology. I work at the juncture, training healthcare workers using technology to build the human resources for health, to have more highly trained doctors and nurses treating more people in Uganda. And it’s bigger than that too, because the right to health, the right to education and the right to information are all linked and dependent on each other.
I’m part of a movement to increase access to life saving care. My colleagues work in direct service, in training, in research and development and come from all walks of life, from passionate youth engaged in their global community, dedicated health professionals, and every day people who struggle to pay for healthcare or lack access to basic medicine.
The global health movement isn’t just about less developed countries, it’s about improving healthcare systems in all countries so that every human being can access and attain equitable standards of health. Now, as an American abroad I hear a lot about healthcare in my country, about politics and constitutionality, but I’m left to wonder what’s next for my country when healthcare is political. Individuals lack access to life saving treatment and medication, countries torn by war are left without basic vaccinations, and those dedicated to addressing the issues their neighbors face lack access to information and technology.
I’m part of the global health movement because I know that I can’t change everything, but working with others dedicated to improving quality of life worldwide, I can guarantee that the highest attainable standard of health becomes easier to reach, that access to education becomes closer to universal and that all people are able to access lifesaving information.
So now I go to the American University of Afghanistan, where I will not be working on access to health but access to education. I will be teaching Introduction to Computer Applications, which may not seem like glamorous work that’s part of any “global movement,” but for me it is. Access to technology and information is key to satisfying our basic fundamental rights, including access to healthcare and education. Put simply, by expanding the use and knowledge of simple software like Microsoft Office, I can help expand access to information more broadly, increase communication between individuals globally and particularly in transitional societies, and help build a skilled workforce to work in health, IT, education, and all fields that will help individuals and societies reach that highest attainable standard.