Global Health Symposium covers public health on international level

Eden Kraus

A Global Health Symposium featuring three keynote speakers gave the Kent State community the chance to learn about current issues within the public health field in Lowry Hall Friday.

The Office of Global Education featured the symposium as the inaugural event to kick off International Education Week, which officially starts Nov. 13.

“This event really was about exposing the university community to global health issues worldwide,” said Mark James, the associate dean of diversity and public health in the College of Public Health and organizer of the symposium. I think the information that was revealed here will go a long way and it will make our students even more committed to public health.”

Marcus Lacerda, a physician who works for the Tropical Medicine Foundation and one of the speakers, focused much of his presentation on Brazilian tropical medicine used with lesser-known diseases.

A native of Brazil, Lacerda spoke on his knowledge of different tropical diseases prevalent in South America. He explained the correlation between certain diseases and poorer areas, referring to them as “diseases of poverty.”

It was important in focusing on neglected tropical diseases that don’t get a lot of funding and are associated with poverty,” James said.

Another speaker, Koya Allen, an infectious disease subject matter expert in the Counter Biothreats Cell of U.S. European Command Headquarters for the U.S. Department of Defense, spoke on the idea that detection leads to prevention.

Throughout the presentation, Allen detailed the process of detecting, tracking and analyzing infectious diseases. She explained her career, but also the difficulties that come with the job, like keeping the public well-informed when exaggerations about disease from news outlets and the general public create widespread panic.

Grace Carey, a senior public health major, said she was happy for the opportunity to learn at the symposium.

“I’m just really passionate about global health, so having three different perspectives from three different speakers was really interesting,” Carey said.

Carey said she is already scheduled for a class taught by Allen, and she looks forward to learning more from her.

“Just watching her talk about what she’s passionate about really inspires me personally,” she said. “It gave me a lot of career inspiration.”

Tabitha Shenk, a sophomore public health major, said she felt inspired by Allen’s presentation because she’s visited Germany, Latvia and Israel. 

“I know I want to live outside of the U.S., so I liked that she talked about how that was a big part of her job,” Shenk said.

While two of the three presentations at the symposium focused more on matters overseas, Tara Smith, a professor of epidemiology at Kent State, focused on a study that hit a little closer to home; the theme was “local is global.”

Smith assisted in conducting an extensive study on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains in the U.S. and its transmission between livestock and humans.

James said he appreciated the range of topics and the willingness of the speakers to talk about lesser-known subjects.

“The whole idea of this event is to distribute knowledge and to get people enthused about public health,” James said.

A full schedule of International Education Week events can be found on the Office of Global Education’s website.

Eden Kraus is the international affairs reporter. Contact her at [email protected]