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Fall 2018 Global Health & Technology

In a world of rapidly evolving technology, new innovations continue to positively transform healthcare around the globe. Come hear from experts about new health technologies being created in the modern age, and how these will affect global health.

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The UC San Diego Global Health ProgramStudents for Global Health, and Global Forum (International House) held our ninth event in the Quarterly Conversations in Global Health series on Wednesday, November 7th, 2018 with over 200 in attendance! This quarter’s panel spoke to the topic of technology’s incredible influence on global health and the need for lower-cost technologies to improve health worldwide.

Thank you to the community tables who participated in the event’s networking session:  American Mock World Health Organization (AMWHO)Tritons for Gender Equity at UCSDStudy Abroad UC San DiegoGlobal Ties UC San DiegoPublic Health Brigades, and MEDLIFE at UCSD.

We would like to give our special appreciation to our event co-sponsors: The UC San Diego Global Health InsituteUC San Diego Division of Social Sciences, and Associated Students for offering their support for the Quarterly Conversations series.

Fall Quarterly Conversations in Global Health 2018 featured three panelists from various research backgrounds in global health technology who presented their insights and experiences with various health issues as they pertain to technology, or lack of technology.

We were delighted to have Dr. Tom Csordas, Director of the UC San Diego Global Health Program, moderate the event as our Master of Ceremonies.

Panel Recap

Dr. Song first held the floor as the panel portion began. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of both Psychiatry and The Dartmouth Institute, specializing in the lived experiences of mental illness and mental health services. Much of her current work involves engaging with marginalized communities in the U.S. using ethnographic methods to identify and design promising strategies for improving services, reducing disparities, and enhancing well-being. Dr. Song began by noting the recent surge in health applications available for download, now over 300,000 as of March of this year. She explained that this indicates fundamental changes in the ways in which people are accessing and engaging in information and believes that mobile health possesses tremendous potential despite the various challenges that remain ahead.

Dr. Song cited her own involvement with the Focus App, designed to provide skills and resources to address schizophrenia. She relates that the initial results were promising in terms of acceptability and therapeutic impact and highlighted the value of 24-hour access. Despite the successes of this application, her work found various shortcomings in mobile health technology. Although many individuals own mobile phones, this does not confer full access to available technology-based resources. It also became evident that the “one size fits all” approach can not be applied to these applications given the diverse personal and cultural meanings of technology.

Dr. Mishra is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UC San Diego and leads human research at NEATlabs, with the intent of developing an improved understanding of neural circuits  as well as translating neuroscience research to the community through global neuroscience collaboration. Dr. Mishra’s work began with game technologies and the elderly, to determine whether  technology could improve attention and memory problems. Her research later took on a new focus, as the rate of diagnoses for attention problems among children rose substantially worldwide. Dr. Mishra cited the staggering number of teens and children with untreated mental health problems which can be mistaken for ADHD. Relying on statistics that claim the youth spends as much as 9 hours a day on social media, Dr. Mishra developed games to evaluate how children interact with the world and their self-esteem. Her research found that only by improving aspects such as self-esteem can one enhance the brain, cognition, and behavior in adolescents with trauma. Dr. Mishra believes that technology-based approaches such as her own will pave the way for more accurate understandings of the brain and mental health.

Dr. Kayser is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego. Her research explores the factors that limit the delivery of safe and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) services and she tests specific WaSH interventions (technologies and management strategies) for their human and environmental health outcomes and their sustainability over time, specifically in rural communities. Dr. Kayser reflected on the inadequate access to microbiologically safe drinking water. Dr. Kayser traces the inequity in access to social and political marginalization and poverty, and lack of available technologies and argues that the consequences of this are countless, citing those such as social and economic costs, gender disparities, and loss of education. To address this global health concern, Dr. Kayser calls for basic water sources such as hand pumps which address many of the issues of safe drinking water. Despite the value of this intervention, many challenges remain including the reality that the pump is not necessarily “on” all the time and people have to walk far to find these pumps. One possible solution includes the circuit-rider model, or essentially on-call assistance, which was found to improve the water retrieval process through less contamination, enhanced community intervention, and improved functionality.

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