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Conference to Examine Global Poverty, Health


Global Health and Clean Water Conference schedule


Friday, March 2, Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall

Saturday, March 3, Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall

Seelye Hall

Weinstein Auditorium, Wright

Were it not for global poverty, contend members of the student organization G.A.A.P.E. (Global Action Against Poverty Everywhere), occurrences of deadly infectious diseases such as malaria, hepatitis, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS could be substantially reduced.

Access to clean water for all the world’s people could itself eradicate many plaguing maladies, insists Heather Stone, G.A.A.P.E. founder and president. Malnutrition and starvation are wholly unnecessary, she avers.

To explore the ramifications of the lack of access to healthy resources in developing countries, G.A.A.P.E. is coordinating a two-day conference, “Disparities: Global Health and Clean Water,” on Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3.

“One out of six people in the world are living in extreme poverty,” notes Stone. “That’s 1.2 billion people living on less than $1 a day. That extreme poverty leads directly to the spread of infectious diseases. Global poverty is a complicated issue, and it takes a lot to understand it.”

To help focus this broad topic, the global health conference will feature talks by seven experts on disease, healthcare, clean water, medicine and economics.

The conference will begin at 3 p.m. March 2 in Weinstein Auditorium with an address on emergency and refugee health by Anne McCarthy, a physician with particular interest in infectious disease and tropical medicine. (See sidebar for conference schedule.)

Other speakers at the conference include Drew Lewis, a pharmaceutical practitioner and infectious disease specialist; Judy Stone, a specialist in infectious disease; Sten Vermund, chair of the Institute for Global Health at Vanderbilt University; Eileen Stillwaggon, associate professor of economics at Gettysburg College and acclaimed author of AIDS and the Ecology of Poverty; and Mary Applegate, a physician and interim dean of public health at the University of Albany School of Public Health.

Stone says the global health conference will focus on the Millennium Development goals ratified at the 2000 United Nations summit. The UN identified eight goals at the summit, including eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating disease, to be reached by 2015.

Stone added that the conference is continuing the conversation begun on campus with the visit of Dr. Paul Farmer, the renowned medical anthropologist who co-founded Partners in Health, an international charitable organization that provides health services to the sick and needy in Haiti and other countries. Farmer, whose book Mountains Beyond Mountains was last summer’s assigned reading, spoke at Smith in September.

Stone, who is the daughter of speaker Judy Stone, has been involved in issues around global poverty since high school, and began her high school’s chapter of NetAid, a national organization that rallies young people in fighting poverty.

“I was always interested in global health,” she says. “I knew I wanted to be a doctor for a long time.”

The G.A.A.P.E. conference will aim to move attendees to act and will provide information and resources for doing so, Stone says. “We want people to learn and to be inspired, to be poised to take further action following the conference. These are issues that deal with people, and I think it’s very important to convey people’s stories. But with a problem that is so massive, young people wonder, what can I do?”

Register online for the conference.

2/23/07   By Eric Sean Weld
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