May 26, 2015

About Alex B. Hill

Currently a Community Health Worker in Detroit, Alex is completing a Masters in Medical Anthropology. Alex holds a Bachelors degree in International Relations and African Studies from Michigan State University with a specialization in International Development and Social Movements. Alex founded and organizes the non-profit, SCOUT BANANA, a cooperative coalition of student groups focused on supporting increased access to health care in Africa. The organization has worked with seven different projects in six different African countries serving over 700,000 people by raising $200,000 and mobilizing 60,000 students. As well as advocating for health access issues across Africa, Alex has worked with a number of grassroots health projects, including: HIV/AIDS education and testing in South Africa, community health assessments in Ghana, and emergency services in Uganda. In 2008, Alex co-founded with three other students the Articulate Journal to give young people a voice in international development and health care. Alex believes strongly in community-based development as most effective and that young people are the key drivers of social change.

The missing ingredients from Jamie Oliver’s #FoodRevolution

Since November 2010, when I started working with adolescents in the Detroit area tackling childhood obesity, television shows that deal with weight loss and healthy eating have become more interesting. I diligently watched The Biggest Loser and similar shows to re-examine the tactics they use and how successful they were. More recently I've been caught up in Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" because what children and adolescents eat at school is a critical piece if the current trends of obesity are going to be reversed. I've been very interested in … [Read more...]

HIV solution: decentralized treatment & patient empowerment At the core of successful health programs are powerful community systems. Whether they are strong local governments, community-based organizations, or just informal groups of individuals, these types of community centered systems keep health programs focused on serving people and meeting needs in ways that will be most effective for the community. In what has been called a model for Africa and US health programs by CDC Dr. Kebba Jobarteh, Mozambique is leading the way in restructuring how HIV treatment and … [Read more...]

Dictators and Democracies for Health

Politics can have serious consequences for health. We need look no further than the US legislature for examples of the politics of health. The recent deeply partisan budget cuts threatened women's health across the country and debates over the Health Care Bill easily demonstrates a democracy's inability to provide basic health for everyone in its population. Other examples come from the USDA's support for corporate farms over the population's health needs amidst the growing obesity epidemic. Some of the best examples of health being politicized come from … [Read more...]

Education is More than a Building

No more cups of any kind, number 3s, or beverage references. Let's talk about root causes. “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime” To build on this wonderful old adage (which was all too easy to add before writing anything original): If you give a community a school; they have a nice building until it decays. If you invest in an education system; they will have education for generations. In a recent response to the Greg Mortenson controversy Rebecca Winthrop, Director of the Center … [Read more...]

When Conflict Health Becomes A Military Tactic

From developing refugee situations to border disputes, health crises that arise as a result of conflict are unfortunately quite common. Conflict health disrupts the ways that people access resources like food, water, and medicine. On the other hand, conflict health also creates the circumstances where diseases spread, people are needlessly killed, and others are critically injured. These horrible results of conflict health are compounded by the destruction of infrastructure: roads, hospitals, etc. So, what happens when conflict health becomes a … [Read more...]

Privilege is a Key Determinant of Health

In our world of abundance there are growing areas of scarcity, our urban cities. These growing areas of scarcity once used to be bastions of wealth, but are now best known for their decaying infrastructures and lack of resources. In some cases urban cities have faced industrial decline, in others its an issue of poor residents being marginalized. Either way, the health disparities that accompany low-income and minority communities is abhorrent. One of the top health indicators related to privilege that can be seen in these communities is access to … [Read more...]

Bicycles are for Global Health

In many cities across the US, cycling is growing in popularity and local governments are working to implement bike-friendly urban planning initiatives, but is it growing fast enough? The US ranks first in the world for percentage of population that is obese (34% for adults age 20 and older). Not surprisingly, the US also ranks near the low end for bicycle usage with 1% or less of its population using a bicycle. Graph (above, Figure 2) from: Bassett, Jr., et al.,  Walking, cycling, and obesity rates in Europe, North America, and … [Read more...]

Who will be an Advocate for more Healthy Food?

The answer is easy enough. Anyone can make the choice to eat better, choose more vegetables, and cut back on sugary, fatty foods. The answer may be easy, but it definitely isn't simple. Millions of people across the US don't have the social mobility to be able to access healthier foods. This is where the easy answer gets complex. Since after the Great Depression, there have been agricultural subsidies for US farmers. Today the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) pays out $20 million for "farm income stabilization." Over time different agricultural … [Read more...]

Global Malnutrition and the Politics of Food

Whether they are starving or eating too much, children around the world are malnourished. A full belly doesn't necessarily mean that a child is getting proper nutrition from the food that they eat. Obese children are just as nutritionally deficient as children who have bloated bellies from hunger. The result is a global generation of unhealthy children who will experience a shorter life expectancy than normal from complications with their health and related diseases. The double burden of malnutrition is seen in both a complete lack of access to food and … [Read more...]

Polio Eradication Efforts: Militant or Ineffective?

Follow the Polio outbreak in real time with HealthMap Smallpox has been globally eradicated since 1980, so why is the eradication of Polio so much more difficult? The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released that the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) would be conducting a new targeted 15 country effort to vaccinate 72 million children in Africa. The new campaign follows numerous failed efforts of the past and reemerging outbreaks. Why does the African continent remain prone to Polio outbreaks that spread rapidly? Why did the organized … [Read more...]