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Global Health Day: April 2

Health workers in the field with the support of local residents.

Credit: WHO/J. Amone

Keynote speaker Ian Crozier shares a physician’s first-hand perspective as Ebola survivor.

 

Among those gutsy health workers who were infected with Ebola but escaped its grip is Ian Crozier, MD. The Vanderbilt-trained infectious disease specialist had been working in the Ebola Treatment Unit at Kenema General Hospital in Sierra Leone.   

At the invitation of the Center for Global Health, he will speak at the Bloomberg School on Global Health Day (Thursday, April 2) about his experiences. Anwesha Majumder, a master’s student in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, had the opportunity to ask a few questions of Crozier in advance of his visit here.

Has contracting Ebola changed how you view your patients? 

Even before I was infected, I was struck by the aggressive way that the Ebola virus robs patients of their dignity. A first-hand perspective gave me a new understanding of that, as well as the disconnect that occurs when you can only see your caretaker’s eyes, when human touch is not part of your interaction.

Every single survivor spent weeks considering his or her own mortality and has gone through incredibly difficult emotional and psychological trauma. I have a new understanding of the loneliness and vulnerability of that space.

What global health lessons can be learned from the Ebola outbreak?

During an epidemic you have to focus on the urgent. But if we don’t understand the long-term lessons, this will happen again. Many of the same things that contributed to the magnitude of this epidemic are still true, perhaps even worse. So concentrating on health systems strengthening and capacity building will be crucial.

In particular, we must partner with our colleagues in West Africa to effectively train the next generation of competent, available and agile health care workers. A well-planned and strategic reconstruction beyond just health will be essential. There’s a unique opportunity here to create a model for future outbreaks.

What advice do you have for students who want to work in global health?

As soon as you can, go and find a niche or explore a problem that grabs you. You’ll find there’s plenty of work to do.

Acquire a needed skill. We often overestimate the skill-level needed to make a difference on the ground.

Work with people who are doing something similar to what you’d like to do and learn how they think about problems. The issues relevant on the ground are often very different than the things we talk about in the classroom.  

Finally, engage your colleagues on the ground globally and you will find your own paradigms get shifted; there is gold to be mined in their experience and perspective.

Dr. Ian Crozier will give a keynote speech between 12 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. in Sommer Hall. All are welcome.

See the Full Schedule for Global Health Day.

Learn More About the Center for Global Health.

Learn More About the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Track.