We Are Learners

After yesterday’s tour of the island, lots of health-related questions emerged in an hour-long debriefing session this morning at St. George’s University. SPH Associate Dean Phyllis Meadows, staff members Dana Thomas and Chinyere Neale, and Paul Cornely Scholar Rohan Jeremiah—a former faculty member at St. George’s—led the discussion.

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(Note the classroom setting—not quite what we’re used to in Ann Arbor!) Students wanted to know about multiple issues, including:

  • Access to care in Grenada—given the steep hills and narrow roads, how do people get care in an emergency?
  • The prevalence of health-related messages on display throughout the island, which more than one student found “reassuring”
  • The abundance of locally raised fresh fruits and vegetables, which would seem to suggest a healthy diet
  •  Motor vehicle accidents—how great is the risk?
  • Typical wait times in health clinics, and how this affects access to care
  • Gender and racial dynamics in Grenada
  • Who makes decisions about health care here—men or women?
  • The use of alternative medicines, such as nutmeg oil
  • Leading causes of death
  • The role of stigma on a small island where most people know each other—how does it affect health and health care?
  • The culture surrounding aging members of the population
  • Land use
  • Social and environmental determinants of health
  • Health disparities—to what extent do they exist? How and where?
  • The cost of health care

Meadows reminded the group that as public health practitioners, it’s crucial they build trust. “We are learners. Forget everything you know about America, because not everything transfers.” Hence the importance of a session like this—a bracing start to a day in which all 10 students would meet their respective community partners for the first time.

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