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UC Global Health Day to focus on population growth

More than 300 people — many of them UC faculty, students and staff — will gather at UC Berkeley on Saturday, Feb. 4, for the second UC Global Health Day, sponsored by the UC Global Health Institute (UCGHI). The conference will be both a discussion about population growth and its impact on health worldwide, and a showcase for global health research being undertaken by graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty across the 10-campus system.

The conference, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Dwinelle Hall, will be hosted in partnership with the UC Berkeley Center for Global Public Health, the UC Berkeley Bixby Center for Population, Health & Sustainability, and the Northern California International Health Interest Group.

Two special sessions will take place in the morning with prominent speakers from the U.S. and abroad. The first session, Population, Consumption and Human Wellbeing, will be chaired by UC Berkeley’s Malcolm Potts, director and founder of the Bixby Center for Population, Health & Sustainability. The session will feature keynote speaker Sir John E. Sulston, the 2002 Nobel laureate in medicine. He chairs the People and the Planet Working Group of the Royal Society, London. Potts and Eliya Msiyaphazi Zulu, the second keynote speaker, also are participants in the working group.

“The freedom and autonomy of women, the challenge of reducing maternal and infant mortality around the world, lifting 2 billion people out of abject poverty, forestalling more failed states like Somalia, and adapting to global warming are all heavily influenced by the population growth factor,” said Potts. “Whether women are given the right to decide when to have a child is critical to health as well as education and development.”

A second morning session, titled Consequences of High Fertility and Population Growth: The Special Case of Africa, will be chaired by UC Berkeley’s Martha Campbell, lecturer in global health, School of Public Health. The keynote speaker will be Zulu, director of the African Institute for Development Policy in Nairobi, Kenya. Both morning sessions also will feature prominent scientists from several UC campuses.

“The future of many African nations hinges on the policies that African governments develop and the investment the international community is prepared to make around voluntary family planning,” said Campbell.

In the afternoon, more than 70 UC students, faculty and other practitioners in global health will make oral presentations and lead breakout sessions, and 78 posters will be presented. A range of global health issues will be offered, including: Global Public Health Law; Global Health & the Media; Gender-based Violence in sub-Saharan Africa: Toward a Transdisciplinary Approach; Social Media How-To; From Malaria Control to Elimination; Improved Childhood Health through Reduction of Household Air Pollution from Cookstoves; and Climate Change & Vector Biology.

“Students and young faculty are the main drivers behind the incredible growth in global health research and education programs on UC campuses,” says Haile Debas, director of the UC Global Health Institute and former chancellor and dean of the School of Medicine at UCSF. “UC Global Health Day provides a forum to share their research and ignite collaborations that could lead to innovations in addressing major health problems in developing countries.”

The UC Global Health Institute was established in November 2009 in response to the growing demand from students and faculty interested in global health research and education. The UCGHI is composed of three multicampus Centers of Expertise — Migration & Health; One Health; and Women’s Health & Empowerment – that are launching projects and education and training programs to produce leaders and practitioners of global health, conduct innovative research, and develop international partnerships to improve the health of vulnerable people and communities in California and worldwide. Currently, the UCGHI is assessing the feasibility of creating a joint MS program in global health at three or more UC campuses.

The UCGHI is jointly led by Debas at UCSF and Thomas Coates, the Michael and Sue Steinberg Professor of Global AIDS Research at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.

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