This course introduces students to Public Health as a population-based approach to preventing disease and prolonging human health through community action. An emphasis will be made on how public health knowledge plays a vital role in daily lives, and comparisons will be made between the public health systems of the U.S., other developed countries, and of developing countries. Topics will include principles of evidence-based public health, collection and communication of health information, roles of social and behavioral sciences in public health, ethical and human rights concerns, different kinds of health systems, the roles of culture in health, prevention of non-communicable and communicable diseases, health issues specific for women and children, and working in public health. Students will have the opportunity in a field lab to investigate a country’s public health system and how if functions to alleviate a pressing health concern of that country.
Field WorkCountry: Ghana
Day: 3 - Thursday, 31 March
This field lab takes us to a hospital(s) in Ghana where we will tour a maternity ward and speak with physicians and midwives about childbirth practices in Ghana. Topics for discussion might include: the availability of pre- and post-natal healthcare for women; beliefs and practices around family planning; infant and maternal mortality rates; the role of midwives in Ghana today; the interaction of “modern” and “traditional” beliefs/ knowledge around pregnancy and childbirth; the use of anesthesia during childbirth; the availability of general gynecological care for women; the role of fathers in pregnancy and childbirth. It also promises to be a moving experience that speaks—in a vivid and immediate way—to some of the ideas about maternity, women’s bodies, and female sexuality raised by our literary texts. Certainly it will help us think further about whether there are aspects of women’s experiences that are “universal” and to what extent a biological process, such as childbearing, is significantly shaped by cultural context.
1. Understand the issues related to maternal mortality in Ghana
2. Explore the maternity services available to women in Ghana
3. Identify the strategies that local and governmental public health officials are employing to reduce maternal mortality in a developing country (Ghana)