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Global Health

International involvement available at MUSC

Editor's note: Welcome to the Global Health page. The purpose of this monthly feature is to raise awareness of key global health issues with an academic spirit to help improve the quality of care provided to MUSC patients. E-mail

by Andrea P. Summer, M.D.
Globalization has led to a rapidly shrinking world with new health challenges and a host of opportunities for involvement in international settings. To that end, this section will serve as a venue to post lectures and seminars on global health topics, and a listing of overseas opportunities.
There will be an interdisciplinary focus with contributions from members of all six MUSC colleges on a rotating basis.
Each month, a country will be featured with a story from an international student or trainee that highlights health care. A corresponding clinical case will be presented to increase familiarity of a specific tropical infection or cultural practice, or to emphasize health inequities.
This section is intended to be educational and fun, as well as a means for disseminating information about global health activities on campus to connect individuals with shared interests.
As we gain exposure to a diverse range of cultures, health problems, and disciplines, let us all be encouraged to celebrate that which unites us and embrace the differences so that they may enrich our lives.

Brain Surgery in the Bush
Dr. Dilan Ellegala
Asst. Professor of Neurosurgery
MUSC Dept. of Neurosciences
Wednesday, Sept. 3 at 6 p.m.
Storm Eye Institute

Prenatal care campaign reaches out to new mothers

by Natalia Davila
College of Nursing student
When researching health problems prevalent in a tropical country such as Colombia, one discovers issues such as malaria, malnutrition, anemia and scurvy.
Flag of Colombia
I expected to find issues in providing health care, but instead found that since 1993 Colombia changed its health care system so that 87 percent of Colombians now have access to health care services.
Another issue that is prevalent to most Latin American countries and countries labeled as less developed is death during pregnancy and childbirth. This problem also affects developed countries including the United States that is ranked 27th with an estimated 11 maternal deaths per 100,000 births. The ratio in Latin America and the Caribbean is 190 deaths per 100,000 births.
A street in Old Town Cartegena, Colombia.

One of the Millennium Development Goals is to reduce this number by three-fourths between 1999 and 2015. Colombia has decreased its rate from 99 deaths per 100,000 births in 2001 to 68 in 2005 and is continuing to work to decrease this rate to 45 deaths per 100,000 births by 2015. This success is largely due to prenatal attention and a national educational prenatal care campaign, which has resulted in a 66 percent increase on child delivery assisted by a physician, 18 percent increase on institutional delivery, and a 49 percent increase in prenatal care use among rural women in Colombia according to

Colombia facts
  • Colombia is the oldest democracy in Latin America and has a population of 45 million;
  • 80 different indigenous tribes live in Colombia and speak 64 different languages;
  • Colombia has the world’s greatest diversity of orchid species (3,500) and birds (1,754).
  • 95 percent of emeralds come from Colombia
  • Deep in the Amazonas jungle, the tiny Golden Arrow frog lives. Its poison is the most lethal in the world: one frog's poison can kill 1,500 people.

Clinician’s corner

A 35-year-old male presents to your clinic with fever, four days after a one-week trip to urban areas in southwestern Colombia. He also complains of headache, muscle and joint pains, nausea/vomiting, and rash. He recalls sustaining multiple mosquito bites during daytime activities. His exam was significant for mild diffuse abdominal tenderness and a red, macular rash on his trunk. Laboratory studies revealed a low WBC count, normal hemoglobin, slightly low platelets and mildly elevated liver enzymes.

The most likely diagnosis for this patient is:
__Yellow Fever
__Dengue Fever
__Chagas’ Disease
Answer: C. Dengue fever is a viral infection found in warm weather climates in both rural and urban areas of Asia, Africa, and the Americas. It is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and has a short incubation time (three to 14 days). Muscle aches with dengue fever can be so severe that it is sometimes referred to as break-bone fever. Treatment is supportive care. Patients should be monitored for complications including bleeding. Cases of dengue fever have increased considerably during the past several years, possibly due to global warming.

Friday, Aug. 29, 2008
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