(Dec. 12, 2013) — As part of Sacred Heart University’s 50th Anniversary Colloquia Series, the School of Nursing invited Majid Sadigh to speak about the global impact of health issues in remote parts of the world and the importance of developing proactive initiatives.
Sadigh graduated from Shiraz University Medical School in Iran and completed his residency at St. Mary’s Hospital in Connecticut, as well as an infectious disease fellowship at the University of Chicago. He served as associate program director of the Yale Primary Care Program and associate professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine for many years. The director of Global Health at Danbury Hospital since June 2012, Sadigh is a veteran of medical missions around the world and has trained physicians and provided patient care in areas like Uganda, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Guyana and the Dominican Republic.
“From the 1950s to 1970s, young Americans would go to Third World countries for a few weeks and learn about them, but as tourists, and nothing was shared,” Sadigh began, noting one void in the way the U.S. has interacted in the world community. Another void, he explained, is how some groups approach global health, focusing on certain types of health problems (communicable diseases), certain populations of interest (the poor, for instance), geographic areas or specific missions.
Bucking that trend, Sadigh said the New England Journal of Medicine was the first to suggest that local health and global health are linked to sources of ill health elsewhere in the world. In other words, the disease that impacts a remote village in the world may also impact America.
A prime illustration of this is AIDS. HIV, which destroys T cells responsible for maintaining the body’s immune system function, originated in a small village in Uganda and, while a majority of today’s documented cases are still in Africa, 33.2 million people worldwide have the disease.
Sadigh noted that, slowly, the academic community in particular is taking a more proactive approach to global health. “Fifty percent of medical students graduating from Yale have done some global health project work or studies,” he said.
Still, he continues to see tragic circumstances. “When I was at Morocco Hospital, I met a 17-year-old girl who had been born with HIV,” he said. “She gave birth to a child who died of seizures. The hospital gave her a mattress to sleep on while relatives of other patients tried to help her. Suffering brings people together.
Citing other cases, Sadigh said that, in Uganda, patients turn up at the Uganda Cancer Center with very advanced forms of cancer because they can’t afford to get to the facility.
One young Ugandan doctor, Dr. Okuku, who was trained at Yale, has taken matters into his own hands in the instance of women and breast cancer. He initiated a mammography van program in remote areas to screen women, perform biopsies and send samples to the U.S. for testing.
For his part, Sadigh sponsors programs that allow stateside students to embed themselves in a country, work with a local medical team and help patients. In March 2014, in collaboration with Danbury Hospital of the Western Connecticut Health Network, SHU nursing faculty will go to Paraiso in the Dominican Republic to make an assessment of health care needs there.