Sunday, November 8, 2009


Female genital mutilation in Tanzania. The dangerous mix of truck drivers and sleep apnea. School-based obesity prevention. Computer literacy skills among public health nursing students.

If you’re looking for a wide range of public health topics, check out the poster sessions located at the back of the Public Health Expo. They’re compelling, hard-hitting and unforgettable.

“I think it’s hard to conceptualize how different life can be for a different culture,” said Emory University doctoral student Aaron Siegler, MHS, whose poster on female genital cutting prevalence and instrument sanitation among the Maasai tribe of Tanzania highlights the fact that education is a powerful weapon.

His study showed that when girls and women have any education at all, they are less likely to undergo the practice that’s long been considered a rite of passage, even though it's outlawed.

Poster presenter Dara D. Mendez, PhD, MPH, looked into young black women’s perspectives on communication with mother figures surrounding sexual health and well-being. Guess what? They want to talk about the nitty gritty of sex, HIV/AIDS and how their mothers and other female elders dealt with sexual intimacy.

Then I was stopped in my tracks by photos of people who died on the job. The grinning face of 26-year-old Austin J. Sawicki, who died when a steel beam fell on him while he was working on a construction site. Vincint Don Lavite, 38, who suffered a fatal fall at a cement plant in Missouri. The poster exhibit was just one of many touching on such occupational health and safety issues as pesticide exposure, hearing loss, respiratory symptoms in workers with asthma, and effects of age and night work on the mental health of people working in a correctional institution.

For workers on the road, Florida A&M’s Felicia N. Green, MPH, found that sleep apnea is prevalent among truck drivers, but they are often scared to seek treatment for fear of losing their jobs.

“It’s a big issue that I think can be changed,” she said. “A lot can be changed for the better.”

And that, after all, is why many of us work in the public health field.

Poster sessions run at different times daily through Wednesday morning. Check out the program for a detailed schedule.

— D.C.


Anonymous said...

Wow -- I usually skip the posters for the regular sessions -- but I'll be sure to head down there this year!

Anonymous said...

It's amazing to see the wealth of information out there. thanks for sharing the perspectives.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad there's some good news coming out of Philadelphia this week, that there are people doing the good work of informing the world of some of the real heroes of the world.

Thank you for the combination of insight and facts that you presented with this blog. It's one thing to publish an opinion on things -- it's quite another when the writer takes the time to put together an informative piece with insight attached.

Anonymous said...

The thing about the truck drivers is scary, and so backward. We should be encouraging them to come forward by protecting their jobs, and thus making the rest of us safer on the highways.

Phil Davis said...

Wow. So many compelling, powerful issues -- and images -- packed into a small area. Definitely want to know more.

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