Global Classroom: What Does It Take To Eradicate Disease?

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On January 17th, 2018, Global Classroom and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation invited educators and interested community members to an educator workshop entitled “What Does it Take to Eradicate Disease?” The goal was to provide our guests with more knowledge regarding global health issues, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), and the initiatives underway to combat these diseases. For our educators in attendance, the workshop provided three credit hours along with a Global Classroom produced resource packet to be used in the classroom. Our night consisted of two presentations given by Nana-Kwadwo Biritwum and Felicia Maffia and a discussion headed by Tami Carabello, Zeta Strickland, and two students from Glacier Peak High School.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Discovery Center was an excellent venue for aiding our discussion topics by offering many informative and interactive displays regarding global health. Virtual Reality head sets were available which provided an intriguing new perspective on Elephantiasis, Sleeping Sickness, and River Blindness, three of the many NTDs.

20180117_170125The night began with Nana-Kwadwo Biritwum discussing his work on NTDs. Mr. Biritwum is the Program Manager, Neglected Tropical Diseases Program under the Public Health Division of the Ghana Health Service, and Program Officer with the Gates Foundation. Mr. Biritwum stressed the importance of basic sanitation in fighting these diseases, and the lack of access to basic sanitation that much of the world faces. NTDs affect over 1 billion people in 149 countries, and over 2 billion people do have proper access to sanitation facilities. The vast majority of the millions that die due these diseases annually die from preventable and treatable causes.  There was also heavy attention toward how children are affected by these diseases. Mr. Biritwum pointed out that over 400 million school aged children are affected by a disease classified as a NTD.

Following Mr. Biritwum’s presentation on NTDs, Felicia Maffia discussed the content of the current Vaccine and Immunology exhibit.

20180117_175502Finally, a panel discussion was held to provide insight into how to integrate global health topics and NTDs into the classroom. Tami Carabello, a science teacher at Glacier Peaks High School, offered her experience in and out of the classroom regarding disease eradication. Zeta Strickland, Director of Pre K-12 Engagment at the Pacific Science, discussed the upcoming Pacific Science Center’s Immunology Exhibit and how to spark a student’s interest in global health topics. The student panelists discussed the importance of Public Health programming for high school students, how it affected their own education, and how public health classes motivated them in planning their futures.

We finished the evening with our educators, gathering to discuss the content of the Global Classroom resource packet. The content of the packet focuses on many of the same global health issues that our speakers discussed, lesson plans, and additional insight into other aspects of the Gates Foundation and how its work. If you wish to access our packet, please visit our Teacher Resources page.