In the spring of 2014, the Miami University Global Health Alliance was born. The idea originated with five students participating in Miami University’s Global Health minor, introduced the previous fall under the direction of coordinator, Cameron Hay-Rollins, a professor of anthropology.
“We…realized there’s not really somewhere for us to all come and talk about issues and what we’re interested in, so we decided to form the Global Health Alliance,” explained the organization’s co-president and treasurer, senior Manisha Reddy, a political science major with minors in management & leadership and global health.
“Our main goal is to… try to bring awareness to campus and serve as a helping tool for kids in the minor about professions that they can get into, people they can talk to… and just to be actively involved in global health and to know what’s going on with current… issues.”
The organization’s twenty members meet every two weeks and they continue to grow in size, according to Reddy, who said she is pleased with their progress despite the difficulties of getting an organization on its feet. The minor has also been growing and the first five seniors will graduate in the spring.
In September 2014, the MU Global Health Alliance held their first event. Allan Daly came to speak about his work building schools off the coast of Australia. The event was so well-attended that students were left standing in the back, according to Reddy, who was excited to see so many students taking an interest.
Global Health Week was another one of the organization’s first projects, and one they hope to continue annually. Members participated in a different event each day to reach out to students about global health issues.
On Monday the group hung sheets across campus discussing commonly misrepresented major health issues including Ebola and STDs.
“What we wanted to do was bring attention to the fact that Ebola is not everywhere,” said Reddy. “It’s concentrated in three countries. And the portion of number of cases, number of deaths, is actually really low. Because of the media, people have this misconception that Ebola is everywhere and that everyone who contracts it dies, and so we wanted to combat that misnomer.”
On Tuesday, the group informed students about hunger and poverty while passing out hot apple cider around the Miami Seal, and on Wednesday they presented the film Half the Sky in Farmer Auditorium. The film focuses on “Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” according to its website. A discussion followed the film, which Reddy cited as one of the members’ favorite events.
Thursday, the group held a Card Making Campaign table at the Armstrong Student Center, where students could make cards for patients at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and MU Global Health Alliance’s partner school in Uganda. The organization shares their partner school with Oxfam. On Friday, the group conducted the Dollar a Day Campaign, where they discussed people around the world who live off of a dollar each day.
Next semester, Reddy and the other founding senior officers are eager to pass the torch onto the younger members. In the spring, they hope to bring in more speakers and hold an additional global health event in April around World AIDS Day.
Overall, Reddy believed their first Global Health Week was successful, “…when you’re a new organization, it’s hard to gauge what the response will be, so were pretty happy with what we saw.”