Welcoming the 7th cohort of international leaders in health equity to the HEAL Initiative

Each July, the HEAL Initiative welcomes a cohort of fellows into our growing community of now over 170 healthcare workers worldwide. This year’s cohort has 22 fellows from North America, Central America and Africa. Together, they will spend the next 2-years building their leadership and advocacy skills through HEAL’s intensive curriculum and immersive trainings, building their capacity to address some of the most urgent issues in global health.

The cohort includes seven domestic site fellows that are from farm worker communities in Central California or are Indigenous People working in health centers across Navajo Nation. Seven international site fellows that…

Written by James Jackson

I donated my kidney 8 years ago. Until recently, I resolved not to talk about my donation for fear of benefiting socially or professionally as a result. I am now writing openly in hopes of bringing attention to an ongoing crisis and to advocate for change.

March 11th is World Kidney Day. Kidney failure, kidney transplant and kidney donation bring together some of the most important issues of our time. The same dynamics of racial injustice, financial inequality, and exploitation are deeply seeded in end-stage renal disease.

While Black people make up about 13% of the population, they account for…

Reflections from working on Navajo Nation during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Written by Robin Tittle

As I return from 2 weeks working in a hospital at the edge of Navajo Nation, a few reflections keep pushing their way to the surface. Up until now, I’ve tried to keep my trip relatively quiet. Not because it hasn’t been an incredibly meaningful and moving experience but because I know, inevitably, the narrative gets turned into a savior frame. The story becomes about me and how good and kind and selfless I must be to come to a poor and needy community to treat patients. …

Originally posted on March 11, 2020 in BMJ Global Health.

Authored by HEAL Alumni Anup Agarwal, Nadra Crawford, Viet Nguyen, and Andrea Walker


Global health, once an obscure field of practice and research, is rapidly gaining prominence. Many training institutions have responded to the high demand for a global health “experience” by providing short-term forays into exotic locales. This phenomenon can be dangerous, feeding into what writer Teju Cole described as the White Savior Industrial Complex (WSIC). Teju Cole notes that WSIC is “not about justice.” Rather, “it is about a big emotional experience that validates privilege.” The term “white…

Authored By Dr. Tula Krishna Gupta, HEAL Fellow 2019–2021

Originally published on April 9, 2020 in The Himalayan Times.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful for communities across the globe. It has perpetrated a level of anxiety in all populations, which has led to stigma towards certain people — especially Asian Americans in the US. The current outbreak has provoked stigma in Nepal as well. Health care workers, COVID-19 patients or suspects, and people who have returned home from abroad are having to face these stigmas.

A few days back, an adult male presented himself in our fever clinic at…

In a Chhattisgarh hospital, patients bear the brunt of the poorly planned COVID lockdown

Authored by Yogesh Jain and Naman Shah.

Originally published on March 28, 2020 in The Caravan.

This is the first piece in a series titled “The Rural Front Line,” by Yogesh Jain and Naman Shah, about the COVID-19 pandemic. Jain and Shah are both doctors working with Jan Swasthya Sahyog, a public-health initiative based in rural Chhattisgarh. Over the course of the series, they will address the issues they witness on the ground while dealing with the virus, and discuss how policy decisions affect the lives of India’s rural residents.

Jan Swasthya Sahyog, Bilaspur. Photo by Rohit Pansare, 2016.

On the first day of a three-week nationwide lockdown, Jan…

Long before coronavirus came along a rural Nepal hospital has been battling a pre-existing public health crisis

Authored by Bikash Gauchan, HEAL Alum.

Originally published here on March 31, 2020 in The Nepali Times.

At time of writing at noon on 21 March there were 785,855 confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world, and 37,826 fatalities in just three months.

The speed of spread and the size of population and geography affected is unprecedented in human history, after it spread from Wuhan in December.

Nepal was actually only the fifth country to report its first case of COVID-19 in a student who came from Wuhan. …

As north-east Delhi shows, a population losing trust in the care system can affect other health-care indicators as well

Authored by Anup Agarwal, HEAL Alum.

Originally posted on March 25, 2020 in The Hindu here.

The impact of riots on health services receives scant attention, more so when there is a communal angle to it. While the narrative around deaths receives some attention, the deeper insidious effects are glossed over. This will also impact not only the health of the population but also crucial medical responses in a time like the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Here is one such story, although not unique.

After the riots in north-east Delhi, in February, a volunteer called our medical team: “Twenty-two-year-old…

By Brett Lewis & Kelsey C. Priest

HEAL Fellows during the HEAL Initiative’s Global Health Training.

We are in the midst of an unprecedented moment in the history of medical education: Match Day ceremonies canceled, clinical rotations interrupted, and licensing exam centers shut-down. As the anticipated surge on the health care system due to COVID-19 looms, some programs are asking fourth years who have met graduation requirements to consider starting residency early. New York University is offering early graduation to fourth-year medical students who are willing to start residency in April. They are following in the footsteps of Italy, in which 10,000 fourth-year medical students were advanced to graduation early — their skills desperately needed on…

The country must rethink its strategy of epidemic management to be more inclusive of the marginalised sections of the society.

By Anup Agarwal (HEAL Alum) and Yogesh Jain

Village health workers at Jan Swasthya Sahyog in Bilaspur. Photo by Rohit Pansare, 2016.

How do you discuss self quarantine with a person sharing a tiny shanty with 10 people in a slum? How do you advise social distancing to a manual scavenger? How do you tell an Adivasi, who struggles for one meal a day, to prioritise hand sanitisers? How do you educate tuberculosis survivors about cough etiquette?

The epicentre for the global pandemic, Covid-19, recently shifted from China to Europe. China’s authoritarian regime controlled it by enforcing a lockdown, and Europe and the United States are putting all their resources to use.

The dominant…

HEAL Initiative

Health, Equity, Action & Leadership: Training healthcare providers and global change-makers in Navajo Nation, Haiti, Liberia, India, Nepal, Malawi & Mexico.

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