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BGU sends Delegation to Train Azeri Medical Students in Baku, Azerbaijan

A new agreement between BGU’s Faculty of Health Sciences (FOHS) and Azerbaijan Medical University was spearheaded by Dr. Alexander Geftler and FOHS Dean Prof. Amos Katz. Geftler was born in Baku and is now a member of the Faculty and an orthopedic surgeon at Soroka University Medical Center.
In order to strengthen ties between Israel and Azerbaijan, a delegation from BGU traveled to Azerbaijan recently to train 31 Azeri doctors and researchers in Good Clinical Practice (GCP). Naomi Amihai, Director of the Research Management Unit and Aviva Grosbard, Co-ordinator for Clinical Trials at Soroka conducted the training.
FOHS Dean Prof. Amos Katz and Prof. Nadav Davidovitch, the Dean’s Advisor for International Affairs, also traveled to Azerbaijan to meet with the president of Azerbaijan Medical University where they signed an agreement to collaborate on research and teaching and professional knowledge sharing.
“The course was a cornerstone for cooperation. For me, to return to Baku where I was born as a doctor and to hold this course there for the first time was to come full circle,” says Dr. Geftler.
During the course, Amihai and Grosbard taught the students about international principles in clinical research with a focus on ethical dilemmas. At the conclusion of the training, the participants received a certificate issued to them by Israeli ambassador to Azerbaijan H.E. Dan Stav. “The Azeri medical system is in desperate need of knowledge transfer and knowledge sharing in various fields, from training skilled personnel to the need to significantly upgrade the medical system to acquiring skills to conduct research studies to a high international standard,” he noted.
The successful initial course has led to the first joint research study which will focus on the effect of Azerbaijan’s Nahçivan salt mines on lung diseases.
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Above left to right: Prof. Shorkai Sedayev, head of clinical surgery at Azerbaijan Medical University, H.E. Dan Stav, Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Prof. Rauf Bailrov and Prof. Rahima Gvuloba from Azerbaijan Medical University and Dr. Alexander Geftler of BGU's Faculty of Health Sciences

MSIH Students Present Their Research in Cairo

2nd Year MSIH students, Jonah Cohen and Aaron Hochman-Zimmerman, spoke at the
3rd Conference on Emergency Medicine in Africa
Text and photos by: Aaron Hochman-Zimmerman and Jonah Cohen
“You are welcome in Egypt, my friend.” 
I heard that phrase several times all over Cairo; but more than the words, the smiles told me that it was genuine. When I told each of them I had arrived from university in Israel, they seemed to offer their reassurance that they held no grudge, took part in no political quarrel and cared about people as individuals.
“In Israel..?” some were initially surprised, but the conversation always ended the same. You are welcome; we are friends.
Jonah and I went to our first medical conference to represent our university, to relay what we had learned working with underprivileged communities and to learn what we could about emergency medicine in Africa. We were about to be a part of the ever-shifting strategy of delivering modern healthcare to the places where it is most needed and least available.
To our relief, our status as second-year medical students did not leave us out in the conversational cold. There was very little medical material that was discussed which was above our level. Especially, in the fields of infectious disease, the related pharmacology and respiratory emergencies, we felt as though the research presentations and case discussions were a complimentary color palate to our black and white textbooks. Even our own experiences working with underserved populations made us more than idle observers of the public health policy discussions.
Still, beyond listening to lectures, there was much work to be done. While I fielded a variety of questions in front of my poster detailing the development of pre-hospital care in Uganda, Jonah was preparing his featured talk on ambulance coverage in the Bedouin villages near Beersheva.
Jonah’s talk (photo above right) was well-considered, well-executed and well-received. He touched on themes which were prevalent throughout the conference. Proper ambulance care, anywhere in the world, requires the involvement of community leaders to create sufficient plans and protocols before the emergency happens.

Beyond the conference lecture halls, there was plenty to share with the conference attendants. Everyone from American emergency department directors, to fellows and PhDs had interesting stories to tell about work in Africa. We heard all about work being done on palliative care in Addis Ababa to modern emergency wards being set up in Kigali. My Ugandan friends were able to share all that has happened with their fledgling national ambulance service since I had to leave Uganda this summer.
But of course, days of the conference led to nights of the conference when Jonah and I stepped out to some of the cafes in town with our new Egyptian friends. And of course, before we left we had to see the pyramids. For something we have all seen pictures of thousands of times, they do not disappoint. They have the character of natural features; something that rose up under the desert’s own power as well as a tribute to the genius of an ancient people.

Over a few days, Jonah and I learned plenty, taught a little and were able to act as ambassadors of sorts for our university and our adopted home in Israel. All that and we even found time for a bit of studying by the Nile.  

Jonah and Aaron presented their research to students and faculty upon returning to MSIH.

Seasonal hunger and public policy: intersectoral solutions needed

 Author : 
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Richard J Deckelbaum
Richard J Deckelbaum directs the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University in New York City where he holds professorships in nutrition, paediatrics, and epidemiology.  Prof. Deckelbaum is MSIH co-founder and Senior Consultant in Global Health at MSIH.

While the ongoing effects of climate change are uncertain and will only be revealed over time, the vulnerability and compromised wellbeing of the world’s poor, who remain dependent on rain-fed agriculture, is likely to increase. A panel at the 2016 Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) meeting broke new ground in describing the intersectoral contributors to, and consequences of, seasonal hunger due to climate change at different levels, from biological implications to rural livelihoods to social unrest. This blog is a brief summary of those discussions and the novel interdisciplinary considerations that will be required to solve or diminish the risks of this pervasive problem.

In regions of the world where there is a marked dichotomy between wet and dry seasons caused by mono-modal rains, there can be a profound linkage between these environmental variations (“seasonality”) and numerous aspects of human biology and even survival. Some of these influences can persist for generations and bear down on the very process of human evolution through effects on fertility selection.
Fundamentally, seasonality affects the principle drivers of nutrition. Food access, along with nutritional quality, is highly dependent on the seasonal climate and is essential for good nutrition. Yet seasonal hunger is poorly understood. No estimates are compiled and limited evidence exists on prevalence, causes, and impacts. One study, however, which used recent data from the Malawi Integrated Household Panel Survey showed that over half of rural households and a third of urban households reported experiencing hunger in the pre-harvest months, with female-headed households more likely to suffer. In Malawi, the main maize harvest usually begins in late March or early April, with food stores lasting for most households through October. After this time food scarcity and rising prices affect both urban and rural households. Such circumstances can erode household resilience and lead to violence and conflict. Acting alone or together with other household characteristics, such as distance to the nearest road, household size, and age, gender, and education of the household head, these seasonal drivers are a significant cause of global hunger.
Hunger diminishes wellbeing directly, but coping responses such as skipping meals or eating less, acquiring debt through purchasing food on credit, borrowing money to buy food, or selling assets such as livestock, are likely to have both short- and longer-term consequences. For example, in Malawi, 1 month of seasonal hunger is associated with a household harvesting its crop approximately 7 days earlier than a household experiencing no seasonal hunger. This finding has implications both for household nutrition and for household incomes. Interestingly, planting “off-season” or permanent crops that might be harvested during the lean months is associated with more months of seasonal hunger, suggesting this is a coping mechanism adopted by households more likely to experience seasonal hunger. 
Child growth is also highly affected by seasonality, with very poor (sometimes null) growth in the rainy season. The result of this low growth rate and lack of nutrition is a rise in illnesses that in turn place a burden on health systems. In rural areas, these problems are compounded by seasonal effects on the work and social environment, which can affect time allocated to child care and infant feeding practices. Seasonality also affects disease prevention activities such as vector control as well as health care facilities, which may experience increased demand associated with an unusually wet or warm season. Furthermore, the living environment, including sanitation and safe drinking/cooking water, may be strongly influenced by seasonal floods or droughts. 
Climate change is becoming prominent in the current development agenda, motivated by a community that seeks justice for those who are most vulnerable to its impact, yet who have contributed least to its cause. Understanding the current impact of seasonal climate is key to understanding what changes may be underway over longer time frames. Indeed seasonal hunger may be the primary indicator of population vulnerability to climate change. Once seasonal drivers are well understood then we can look at how seasons might vary from one year to another and then how they may shift over time. 
Seasonal intervention points, year-to-year anomalies, and longer-term trends can be better identified using climate information. Recent advances in the development of high-resolution, quality-assured climate data from countries in Africa have opened the way to a better understanding of the local climate, its recent history, and its potential predictability. This kind of detailed knowledge is the key to a better understanding of current vulnerabilities to climate and provides the basis for future scenarios associated with preventing the adverse effects of climate change. Moving forward towards implementing successful policies and approaches to seasonal hunger, better matrices describing the interdependence of the multiple contributors need to be established, understood, and acted upon.  
Contributors to this blog and to the 2016 CUGH session on seasonal hunger are: Andrew Prentice from the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Leigh Anderson from the University of Washington, Jessica Fanzo from Johns Hopkins University, and Madeleine Thomson and Richard Deckelbaum from Columbia University.
All thank Mary Pasquince of Columbia University for helping coordinate the written summaries from each contributor into a single integrated paper.


Dr. Neta Sal-Man - "Young Researchers Forum" of the Natural Sciences Division of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities


Dr. Neta Sal-Man has been invited to join the inaugural “Young Researchers Forum” of the Natural Sciences Division of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. The new forum will be led by Prof. Haim (Howard) Cedar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The purpose of the new forum is to concentrate outstanding young scientists who were recommended by their institutions to hold scientific discussions about topics on the cutting edge of scientific research. The forum can also make recommendations for improving the field to the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. The two year forum will focus on the field of biology.

Sal-Man, a member of The Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics, studies the bacterial transport system of pathogens that cause diarrheal diseases using state-of-the-art microbiology, molecular biology, biochemical, and biophysical approaches. Diarrheal diseases are the fifth leading cause of death worldwide according to the World Health Organization. The results of Sal-Man’s lab will have important implications for drug discovery and vaccine design against bacterial pathogens and possible implications for targeted drug delivery. 

Welcome Class of 2020!

MSIH is pleased to welcome the class of 2020 to campus!! They hail from Australia, China, Ghana, India, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, Canada, the USA and Israel. Their first course Introduction to International Health began on July 27th. Throughout the first year of study, MSIH students will learn the history, critical concepts and practices, and emerging issues in the field of global health.
During their first year, MSIH students also delve into global training by participating in community volunteer projects. Global Health Made Local (GHML) is a volunteer opportunity that was created and organized by students. The opportunity pairs medical students with local families who are managing chronic illnesses and navigating the Israeli healthcare system.
Watch a video about Global Health Made Local:

MSIH Strikes Gold
Six students from the class of 2017 have been elected by their peers to the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS). The mission of GHHS is to recognize individuals who are exemplars of humanistic patient care and who can serve as role models, mentors, and leaders in medicine. GHHS honors medical students, residents, fellows, role-model physician teachers, and others who demonstrate excellence in humanistic clinical care, leadership, compassion, and dedication to service. The nominees from the class of 2017 are Virginia Byron, Kristie Hadley, Joshua Kugler, Amit Rangel, Jayne Shadlyn, and Elizabeth Joy Wiser. They will be inducted into GHHS during the 2017 graduation ceremony.
Class of 2008 Alumna, Dr. Miriam Rahav is currently serving on the planning committee for the 2017 GHHS national conference. She is representing the 17,000 GHHS recipients who are now successfully practicing medicine. The annual national meeting brings together like-minded students, practitioners and advocates who share the common goal of ensuring that medical care is delivered with kindness and compassion. Dr. Rahav is a physician of functional medicine and a board-certified internist practicing in New York City.

Can Medical Students Write?
Recent graduate, Dr. Nathan Douthit of the class of 2016, along with the late Dr. Sakal Kiv (c/o 2016), Dr. Tzvi Dwolatzky, and Dr. Seema Biswas have won the Public Health journal prize for the most downloaded article in 2015 awarded by the Royal Society for Public Health in London, United Kingdom. Their article, Exposing some important barriers to health care access in the rural USA, examined barriers in seeking or accessing health care in rural populations in the USA. They found significant disparities to exist in health care access between rural and urban areas. The award will be presented on October 27, 2016.
Dr. Jeremy Boxer, also of the class of 2016, co-authored Clinical Outcomes of Single- versus Dual- Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators: Lessons from the Israeli ICD Registry, which was published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology.
Rising third year student Robert Chris co-authored Prolonged incubation period of Hookworm-related cutaneous larva migrans in the Journal of Travel Medicine.

Applications for enrollment in 2017 now available!
On July 1, 2016, MSIH began accepting applications for enrollment in summer 2017! This cycle, MSIH is launching an online application. Please visit to access the application. We advise applicants to gather all required documents before beginning the application, as it must be completed in one session.

MSIH offers a limited number of scholarships for partial tuition. Preference for scholarships is given to applicants who submit their application before February 1, 2017.