Posted by: Goldis | January 15, 2008

Brain Drain: What to do?

Africa ‘being drained of doctors’ (BBC)

It’s nothing new, but the stats are certainly scary: the article above notes that for every doctor in Liberia, there are two working abroad.

A few more articles on the topic: 1, 2

Any thoughts?

Posted by: Goldis | January 4, 2008

Welcome to 448B!

Hello and welcome to Biology 448B!

Let me start off by telling you how excited I am that this course is a reality. It has been clear to me that one very large gap in the undergraduate course offerings at UBC is a course that addresses the most devastating and under-researched illnesses in the world: tropical diseases. With the help of Dr. Schulte and UBC Student Development staff, I feel that we are working to fill this gap.

Tropical diseases are infectious diseases that either occur uniquely in tropical and subtropical regions, or are more widespread and difficult to control in the tropics than anywhere else. Tropical diseases have an enormous impact on a large portion of the world, yet are relatively understudied in Western countries.  In many cases, the most serious tropical diseases disproportionately affect poor and marginalized populations.

A number of tropical diseases have been labeled as ‘neglected’ by the World Health Organization, because they persist exclusively in the poorest populations of the world. These diseases include cholera, African sleeping sickness and dengue fever.. 1 billion people, or one out of every six in the world, are affected by these, yet only about one percent of newly developed drugs are for tropical diseases. Given their scope, it is clear that these diseases should be studied extensively. Yet many of these diseases do not “travel” easily, and therefore do not pose a threat to wealthier countries; without an immediate threat, research dollars are not devoted to their study.

As we increasingly travel and take the initiative to work and volunteer in communities where these diseases are rampant, we come in closer contact with these diseases.  As our world moves from one of isolated countries to a large global community, there is a desire to understand how and why these diseases are maintained. This is exactly why this course was developed.

Remember that this course is going to rely on the feedback and suggestions you provide in order to take shape and improve. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have recommendations for topics to cover, or potential guest lecturers – I will try my best to work them in!

I look forward to getting to know all of you over the course of the semester!


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