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Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

OzTREKK student travels the world – Part 3

Continuing her tour of the world, future University of Sydney Master of International Public Health student Jennifer Avery takes time out to discuss the public health issues that affect Central and South America. If you’ve missed our two previous blogs about Jennifer’s travels, please check out OzTREKK student travels the world – Part 1 and Part 2.

And if you’d like to see bigger photos, just click on them!

What was your favourite location in South America and why?

Sunny day in the plaza in Quito

Sunny day in the plaza in Quito, Colombia

This is a tough one. I have to at least state our top three, which are Chile, Argentina, and Colombia. Chile was our number one for many reasons. It is developed and modern yet it also has more rugged and desolate areas like the Atacama Desert and Patagonia. We loved how we could visit lush forests, shop in trendy boutique stores, bike through the world’s driest desert, and camp out beneath snow-capped mountains. I am not sure if there are many countries as geologically diverse as Chile, and with such warm people!

Your least favourite? Why?
There wasn’t a single country where we were not enjoying ourselves the entire time, but one that stands out as a not-so-pleasant experience is Bolivia. Some comical but serious advice from people prior to going there was to “eat nothing” there to avoid getting sick. Well, this was the only place on the trip that one of us was unwell—Ted had some gastrointestinal illness for about two weeks, so that put a damper on things!

“Spending so much time in South America helped me begin to witness and understand people’s day-to-day lives in so many different areas.”

Bolivia was admittedly less comfortable than other places we’d been, including Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. It was not uncommon for us to see people blatantly defecating or urinating in the streets (watch where you step!) and there was garbage everywhere. There were also a couple incidents where we were sure we were going to be robbed (not uncommon), but thankfully we dodged it in different ways.

The famous South American celebration, Carnaval, was going on while we were in La Paz, Bolivia. In many places throughout the continent this is a big celebration, but in La Paz it meant a parade one day followed by the entire city shutting down for about five days. And when I say the entire city—I mean pharmacies, tiny street stalls, restaurants—everything. It was an absolute ghost town. We had already spent more time than we wanted in La Paz, but each day we went to the bus station it was either completely empty or it was filled with employees drinking in the bus ticket sale booths (but refusing to sell any actual tickets since all the drivers were home drinking!). All that being said, Bolivia still had one of the highlights of our trip—the Uyuni salt flats. After being stuck in La Paz for days on end it was a refreshing surprise to our trip.

Carnaval in Bolivia

Carnaval dancers in Bolivia

Which was the poorest location, and what issues (health, poverty, etc.) did you notice?

Bolivia was the least developed place we visited and it begrudgingly holds the title of the poorest country in South America. This is evident by things like the number of people using the streets as a public bathroom (perhaps because most toilets you must pay for), and also the number of young children working in stores and restaurants instead of being in school. One of the sad things I remember seeing is people living in their shops—the mattresses they slept on were inside their tiny stores, their living space no bigger than 6 by 7 feet. Lack of clean drinking water is a definite issue there, and the cheapest thing to eat is always candy and junk food. Dental problems are rampant there, too, which is evident by toothless smiles, blackened teeth and for the few who could afford it, metallic veneers. I am sure there are astronomically high rates of diabetes and heart disease, but due to the poverty, I’m sure it’s hugely underdiagnosed.

Valley of the Moon

Optical illusion in the Valley of the Moon, Chile (salt flats)

How did your experiences in South America reflect your interest in public health/nursing and what did you learn?

I have always been interested in South and Central America culture and people. Parts of it are rugged and so worn down but people’s spirits are incredibly bright despite their adversities. I really want to work in places like that, which is why we spent so much time exploring the culture there. If you have any interest in public health in developing countries, I think it’s valuable to immerse yourself in it to understand it better before trying to generate solutions that may not realistically work or be well received by locals.

“…you realize how global public health efforts need to be creative, realistic and address issues at different levels.”

Spending so much time in South America helped me begin to witness and understand people’s day-to-day lives in so many different areas, all with varying socioeconomic levels. I learned a lot about how and why people make the decisions they do—especially with unhealthy food options that are definitely detrimental to one’s health. We saw firsthand how healthy greens and produce were hard to buy, but once found were always wilting, fly-ridden, and really overpriced. But shiny, colourful junk food was everywhere and unbelievably cheap! Being on a backpacking budget, we totally fell victim to this and could really understand why people make the choices they make. I gained 10 lbs just in the first month being there (I can’t imagine how I’d look if we stayed longer!).

Jennifer performing a glucometer check

Streets of South America

The day I finally found whole wheat bread, a whole two months into our trip, I squealed in excitement. There’s seemingly no encouragement to eat wisely and little affordable options to do so. It definitely sparked my interest as to how to target these kinds of problems, which are much more complicated than simply teaching someone how and what healthy foods are. The reality is the options aren’t there, but we can help work toward making them exist with different strategies. The whole experience—especially my own frustration in a lack of healthy options or clean drinking water—it all really made me interested in helping improve the situation for people.

Why do you think your travel experience is going to help you in your career in public health?

Galapagos Islands

Jen and Ted explore the Galapagos Islands

Visiting so many different countries, each with differences in culture and poverty level really showed me how we need different approaches to helping improve health in different places. No two countries are the same: even if the language and customs seem similar, there are always subtle but important differences that affect how and why people make choices that can affect their health, perception of wellness, and how they treat ailments. We experienced firsthand the lack of things like clean drinking water, toilets, soap, and nutritional food options. It just really makes you realize that in many third-world countries, health is not a conscious decision. That is something we take for granted in developed places. It really helped me see how health is a very complicated system. You can educate people all you want about making healthy food choices, but once you see firsthand that those choices are nonexistent, or truly unaffordable, you realize how global public health efforts need to be creative, realistic and address issues at different levels.

Machu Picchu

Jen and Ted atop Machu Picchu

In our travels and talking with locals, we learned about many places that have corrupt governments, which prevent money from trickling down to clinics, pharmacies, and communities. It’s something we know exists in the world, but seeing it in person made it more real, and it couldn’t be ignored. (Let’s face it: we often all turn a blind eye to many global issues.) Repeatedly, we saw huge divides in socioeconomic classes; you could drive by barren wooden shacks falling apart and then just 10 minutes up the road be whizzing past elaborate mansions. Our experiences will help me as I continue to understand the complexity of health in developing countries. It’s certainly not something I will oversimplify. There are so many components to addressing global health issues, and that is something I want to always remember in my studies and career in public health.

Jennifer performing a glucometer check

Jennifer performing a glucometer check

Tell us a bit about your medical experiences in Nicaragua.

Last year, I volunteered as a nurse for two weeks in Nicaragua with a medical volunteer trip with an organization called Friends of the Orphans Canada (FOTOCAN). Our work involved providing medical check-ups, vaccinations and health teaching to children at the orphanage. With the support and donations of hospitals and clinics, we were able to bring in lots of equipment, medications (including the vaccines that many of the children were behind on due to lack of money from the government to buy these items), eyeglasses, clothing, and much more. Fortunately, the kids at the orphanage are generally very healthy and enjoy a higher quality of life compared to those in the community as they receive food, education, and job support. For this reason, many of the children aren’t actually orphans, but are voluntarily enrolled by their families so that they can live a better life.

“I knew after this experience that I wanted to devote my career to improving global health.”

In addition to providing health care to the kids at the orphanage, the other main goal of the trip was to provide supportive care to the nearby communities, which were extremely poor. We set up mobile clinics (literally tent tarps and folding chairs) each day in remote villages and also returned to them in the second week to see follow-up patients (i.e., ones with a first-time high blood sugar or blood pressure reading). In churches or homes, we triaged and conducted hundreds and hundreds of medical exams on local people, screening them, diagnosing illnesses and infections, and prescribing medications when needed. Many of the people we saw I am certain have never even seen a doctor in their lives. Our most common diagnoses were diabetes and hypertension (one patient I saw had a blood pressure of 202/100.

Nursing duties in Nicaragua

Nursing duties in Nicaragua

A healthy adult should be around 120/80!). Some people were already aware that they had certain illnesses like diabetes or hypertension, but their local pharmacy would often not have the stock of the medication they needed. Locals and health care professionals in these communities attributed this primarily to corrupt government. Thus, another big part of our trip was bringing mass supplies of medication to help restock pharmacies and providing people with adequate amounts of the medicine they needed.

We provided other valuable services including optical check-ups, providing eyeglasses and much-needed dental care. I’ll always remember when a volunteer called me over to help because while as they were brushing a child’s teeth, they were all falling out because they were so decayed. Prior to arriving in Nicaragua, our group connected with local health care professionals and specialists who also accompanied us in our clinics. This was extremely valuable since many people required specialist services and/or follow-up care after our departure. We had a local gynecologist, optometrist, many nurses, and a dentist volunteering with us. Combined with our own group of doctors, nurses, dieticians, and many other health professionals, we were able to efficiently see huge numbers of people in a short period of time and subsequently connect them with specialists if needed.

Nursing duties in Nicaragua

Enjoying a quick nap in Nicaragua

This volunteer trip was the first type of experience I had done like this. It was humbling and fulfilling to say the least, and I knew after this experience that I wanted to devote my career to improving global health.

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Find out more about the Master of International Public Health program at the University of Sydney. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools Admissions Officer Rachel Brady for more information about other public health programs at Australian universities. Email Rachel at rachel@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

 

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

OzTREKK student travels the world – Part 2

Thinking of travelling the world but not sure if you could really do it? Read on and be encouraged and inspired!

Sydney Public Health School

Jennifer Avery and husband Ted enjoying their adventure of a lifetime!

If you missed our previous blog posting about future University of Sydney Master of International Public Health student Jennifer Avery, please check out OzTREKK student travels the world – Part 1.

What were you most afraid of before you left on your journey?

Our biggest fears were definitely about having something bad happen to us while travelling. We were beginning our journey in Colombia, South America. We basically decided to go on this trip with the mindset that something bad will happen – always picturing the worst-case scenario of being robbed of everything we had. We are more than half-way through our journey now and came out unscathed from South America, although Ted did recently have his iPhone stolen just days after we arrived in Madrid, Spain. It happens, but it is a risk we knew existed while doing something like this.

The biggest fear is the lack of job connections we’ll have upon our arrival in Sydney. Having a major gap in employment and not being able to find a job that will help compensate for the higher cost of living there is a worry that sits in the back of our minds. Fortunately, Ted’s previous employers have all offered him to be able to work remotely immediately upon our arrival. So there is a backup plan at least!

Sleepy seal on the Galapagos Islands

Sleepy seal on the Galapagos Islands

I have been worried about transitioning in my job as a Registered Nurse, a job that varies from country to country. Every day things in my job that were once thoughtless familiarities like drug names and all the medical abbreviations used, will be totally different. Now that I’m beginning the daunting process of transferring my nursing license, I am worried about even being able to successfully transfer let alone find part-time work. My main fear though is how challenging it could be working in such a foreign environment and I hope it’s not terribly different. But we’ll see!

Did you have a travel “plan” i.e., did you have a map of where you were going and when?

Usually when we travel (for our brief two-week trips), I am planning crazy. I have each day, destination, and activities planned. For a trip like this, that was a nearly impossible task and also would constrain us more if we planned a really exact itinerary. We knew we would go through South America, then to Europe (or South Africa, pending on whichever was cheaper), then Asia where we would fly to Sydney.

Afternoon siesta

Hammocks in South America just scream “afternoon siesta!”

For the South America leg, a professor that I worked with while teaching at UOIT helped me out big time. He’s originally from Colombia and helped me string together a logical order of countries to see. So that was kind of set for us, and we followed the order but stopped in random cities on the fly. We planned as we went, taking advice from other travellers on what was good and stayed as long as we wanted in each place. The order was as follows: Colombia, Ecuador (Galapagos), Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. We were originally going to spend about two months in each continent (South America, Europe, and Asia). Shortly after arriving to South America, we learned a few things – flights are expensive there, the land distances are huge, and the buses are slow. So we changed our plans and ended up spending an incredible three months there!

For Europe, we had no order and no plans for what to see. We knew some countries that we wanted to go to, but are being purposely plan-free here. When you don’t have plans, you can take advantage of incredible flight and train deals to all kinds of destinations. Currently, our wish list is too long for this trip, but includes France, Germany, Amsterdam, Turkey, and Greece. But just the other day we saw a cheap flight to Morocco and booked it – and that wasn’t originally in our bucket list!

Penguins of Isla Magdalena in Punta Arenas

Jennifer and her husband with the penguins of Isla Magdalena in Punta Arenas

For anyone interested, we have maintained a detailed map on our website with every city we have visited, how many days we stayed, and how we departed that city to get to the next. We’re also working on constructing miniature “shoestring” city guides for major places we’ve been to – including Machu Picchu and Galapagos, which are available on our website.

Check out our next installment of Jennifers travels, when the soon-to-be Sydney International Public Health student chats with OzTREKK about travelling through South America and her medical experiences in Nicaragua! Stay tuned!

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Find out more about the Master of International Public Health program at the University of Sydney. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools Admissions Officer Rachel Brady for more information about other public health programs at Australian universities. Email Rachel at rachel@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

UQ Public Health study links depression and stroke risk

Middle-aged women who have depression are almost twice as likely to have a stroke as women the same age who are not depressed, according to new research from the University of Queensland.

The study, led by Dr Caroline Jackson from UQ’s School of Population Health, found that even after accounting for other stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes, middle-aged women who were depressed were 1.9 times more likely to have a stroke than women without depression.

Dr Jackson said the findings highlight the serious impact poor mental health can have on physical health.

“Current guidelines for stroke prevention tend to overlook the potential role of depression,” she said. “This research is the first large-scale study to examine the association between depression and stroke in women in their forties and fifties.

It draws upon the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, a 12-year study of more than 10,000 Australian women aged between 47 and 52 years old.

Approximately 24 percent of study participants were reported as being depressed, based on their responses to a standardized depression scale and recent use of medication for depression.

Dr Jackson said it was unclear why depression was so strongly linked to stroke in this age group but the body’s inflammatory and immunological processes and their effects on blood vessels may play a part.

Dr Jackson said although the absolute risk of stroke for this age group was still very low — about two percent — the study did suggest the impact of depression may be stronger on younger women.

“Further research is needed on women of different ages within the same population to help us identify how depression impacts their risk of stroke at different stages in life,” she said.

The findings highlight the need for better and more targeted approaches to preventing and treating depression in middle-aged women.

The study, co-authored by Professor Gita Mishra also of UQ’s School of Population Health, will be published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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For more information about public health degrees, international public health degrees and epidemiology degrees, including Master of Public Health entry requirements, application deadlines, tuition fees, scholarships, please visit OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools page.

If you have any questions, please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools Admissions Officer Rachel Brady: Email Rachel at rachel@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1 866-698-7355.

 

Friday, May 24th, 2013

OzTREKK student travels the world – Part 1

How many times have you thought, “Gee, I should have done that differently,” or “Maybe I should be more adventurous”?

Perhaps you have a case of the shoulda coulda wouldas.

Not OzTREKK student Jennifer Avery. She and her husband Ted, who works in the programming  software development field, are currently seeing the world.

Literally.

Before Jennifer begins her studies in the Master of International Public Health program at the University of Sydney, she and her husband decided to quit their jobs, sell their belongings, and tour the world. Talk about guts! Because Jennifer’s story is so remarkable, we’re going to break it down for our OzTREKK blog readers.

What was your main reason for this giant leap of faith?

We both had a strong desire to pursue something different in our lives. It is so easy to stay in the same place for a long time, doing the same things and being stuck in a routine. Once I considered the idea of exploring the world and then studying abroad, nothing else seemed exciting anymore, and it was all I wanted to do. We both felt it would be a life-changing experience. What could be more memorable than exploring so many cultures, places and new things, then beginning a new life halfway around the world?

Learn more about studying Public Health at the University of Sydney

New York airport--winter coats make good floor mats!

It sounds crazy, but I read a book that changed my life – it’s a short read and I highly recommend it. It’s called Vagabonding: The Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts. Basically, just about anyone from anywhere can travel with just a small bit of savings. Your whole life won’t fall apart—in fact so much more will stay the same than you realize. So a whole new way of thinking was opened up in my mind.

At first, the only decision made was that we would move to Australia for me to go to the University of Sydney. My husband Ted would be finishing up his master’s at the University of Toronto in December 2012. My program begins in July 2013… soon I began to see this window of time from January to July as a major travel opportunity. The real push that this was something we could really do came from Potts’ book. Some quick Googling revealed to me that lots of people around the world do this, too. It did seem a little crazy, but at the same time made perfect sense. Selling everything and owning just what was on our backs seemed like it would be a really redeeming and freeing way to start our new journey on the other side of the world!

“I had a huge desire to see as much of the world as I could.”

Ted: We really wanted to see more of the world and experience other cultures, and there is no better way to do that than to live and work in a new place. Jen’s graduate studies seemed like the perfect opportunity for experiencing a different part of the world. Moving to Australia for a year meant quitting our jobs, downsizing our possessions, and starting fresh in a new place. We soon realized that if we had to do this anyway, why not do it a bit sooner so we would have the time to travel around the world like we always dreamed of doing without any commitments?

OzTREKK student Jennifer Avery steps off the plane in Columbia

OzTREKK student Jennifer Avery steps off the plane in Columbia

Where are you headed?

We knew we would go through South America, then to Europe (or South Africa, pending on whichever was cheaper), then Asia where we would fly to Sydney.

Have you always been adventurous? Or is this “out of the norm” for you?

We’ve always been adventurous people, but never adventurous enough to break out of the comfortable North American lifestyle we had become accustomed to. We spent our last two New Years in New Zealand and Costa Rica, jetting off right after Christmas to take advantage of the extra time off, only to return to our day jobs a week and a half later. I also spent two weeks in Nicaragua on a medical volunteer trip, an eye-opening and humbling experience where I provided physical exams and vaccinations for orphans, as well as set up mobile clinics in the surrounding rural communities. But it wasn’t until now that we had the courage to make a major life change to leave our homes and pursue our dreams of seeing the rest of the world.

What was the catalyst for this huge decision?

Hiking in South America

Jennifer and Ted hiking in South America

The major catalyst for this decision was a huge thirst for new experiences—to go through something life-changing. Working in a children’s hospital made me often realize how mortal we all are. It sounds morbid, but when children would pass on, it often got me thinking about what their last thoughts were. And what would my last thoughts be? The media seems to portray that people have this sort of “film” of their lives that flashes through their head before they die. I started thinking about what mine would look like if I just stayed in the same place, working in the same job, doing the same things for the rest of my life. For some people, that is comfortable and perfectly fine. For me, that induced a huge sense of panic. I had a huge desire to see as much of the world as I could. If I am alive and well, I don’t really have a good excuse to wait until I’m old and retired to go see it! It sounds morbid, but a huge push for me has been thinking about death—which can happen to any of us at any time—and putting some serious thought into what I want to do with my life.

How did your families and employers and coworkers react, and how did you handle their reactions?

My parents did not seem surprised by the decision when I told them, truthfully. It was almost like they expected us to do something like that. Both of them were completely supportive of our decision—they trust us to be smart and safe while travelling, and I think they understood this was something I really wanted to do. Ted’s parents had an equally similar reaction, maybe a little more surprised.

As for our employers…. Well, I had been working at the same hospital for two and a half years but had somewhat recently switched departments. My boss was pretty shocked when I told her, but was supportive of the decision. I tried to keep things on the down low at work but once word got out, people were really supportive and gave a lot of encouragement for us to do that kind of thing while we’re young.

Hiking outside Bogota, Columbia

In Bogota, Columbia

“Working in a children’s hospital made me often realize how mortal we all are.”

Some of our friends and family were kind about it, but clearly a bit skeptical. We got a lot of questions like, “But you both have such good jobs! How will you return to your job after? What if you can’t find work?”, or “What about your family?” (a common one). One person even asked how we could sell all the things we got for our wedding as gifts. We told them all the same things: regarding work—we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but both our jobs are fortunately high in demand. Our families—we will miss them but keep in close touch. The more these questions were asked of us, the more we realized how fear can strap people down so much and prevent them from doing something they may really want to do!

Why did you choose Australia? (for the Master of International Public Health degree)

After realizing that I wanted to commit my career to global health issues, I began researching schools. There were not a whole lot of interesting options available for this in Toronto. I had planned to do a distance education program until one night shift, a coworker of mine told me all about a similar program she did for one year in Australia. She emphasized how important it was to do a program like that in person to connect with and learn from your classmates. Students came from all over the world, each offering unique perspectives on global issues and solutions from their home countries. That was all the convincing I needed and I began researching on all my days off. Besides the appeal of that particular program, I had always been really curious about Australia. What exactly was the deal with this sunny utopia on the other side of the world? And the people are so happy there! I have often said that every Canadian has dreamed at one point about living in Australia. That may not be 100% true, but I’d say it is a common thought that pops into the mind while we shiver through too many dull, grey months of cold misery! The idea of studying a renowned public health program in a place that gets sunshine year-round just sounded like paradise, and so it did not take a lot of convincing to get Ted, who also loathes Canadian winters, on board with the idea.

 Las Lajas cathedral in Ipiales

The beautiful Las Lajas cathedral in Ipiales near the Colombia/Ecuador border

Since OzTREKK’s last chat with Jennifer, she and her husband have travelled through South America: Columbia, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Peru (Machu Picchu!), Bolivia, Chile, Patagonia, Argentina and Brazil. Then, to Spain, Morocco and France. Our next blog will feature Jennifer’s travels through South America and her amazing adventures—including a hike to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands! Stay tuned, OzTREKKers!

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Find out more about the Master of International Public Health program at the University of Sydney. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools Admissions Officer Rachel Brady for more information about other public health programs at Australian universities. Email Rachel at rachel@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

 

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Newcastle public health researchers question “manflu” myth

The Man Cold. The Man Flu. Because winter is fast approaching in Australia, most people are preparing for flu season. Men are popularly maligned for wilting like cheap supermarket flowers at the first winter sniffle; however, data from Australia’s online influenza-like illness surveillance system, raises questions about the “Manflu” myth.

An analysis of the 2012 weekly surveillance data of more than 16,000 flu website participants found that there was very little difference between the average duration of illness of men and women responding to the surveys.  Women took an average of 3 days off normal duties with cough and fever, whereas men took an average of 2.8 days off. Among those ill enough to visit an emergency department, women took an average of 4 days off, whereas men took 3.5 days off.

The Flutracking analysis team was split over the implications of the findings—mostly along gender lines. Men may have taken the same amount of time off as women but with less severe illness, or it may be that they really don’t wilt as easily as believed.  The decreased duration of illness among males with cough and fever visiting an emergency department could represent stoicism or perhaps that they were more likely to present to an emergency department with milder illness.

Where males and females do differ is in the timing of their illness throughout the influenza season.  Females tended to get ill earlier in the season than males and then again just after the peak of influenza activity in mid-July (winter in Australia).  This may be explained by females providing more care of ill family members.

Dr Craig Dalton, the director of the Flutracking system,  said there were many reasons why two people with the same viral infection might have different severity of disease including past immunity, genetics, and the dose of virus exposure. Dr Dalton is a Public Health Physician and a Conjoint Senior Lecturer in the University of Newcastle’s Faculty of Health, and is supported by the Hunter Medical Research Institute. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.

The Flutracking system has been able to track the severity of influenza around the country since 2008.  It demonstrated that the 2009 pandemic influenza strain, while severe in some people, mostly led to low attack rates across the community.  The 2012 influenza season was a relatively moderate influenza season but the most severe since the 2009 pandemic.

Flutracking is a joint project of the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Local Health District and is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aging.

About the Master of Public Health program at the University of Newcastle

The Master of Public Health program at the University of Newcastle provides its students with opportunities to undertake professional development and develop a strong foundation in public health. The program will be of interest to individuals of all ages, at any stage of their career, who have a basic undergraduate degree in health and are working in, or intending to work in, the area of public health.

Program: Master of Public Health
Location: Newcastle, New South Wales
Semester intake: February
Duration: 1 year
Application deadline: While there is no set application deadline for this public health program, applicants are strongly encouraged by the University of Newcastle to submit their applications a minimum of three months prior to the program’s start date.

Entry Requirements: To be eligible to apply, you must have a bachelor degree in an approved health-related discipline; or other qualifications approved by the pro-vice-chancellor, Faculty of Health.

Apply to the University of Newcastle Public Health School!

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For more information about public health degrees, international public health degrees and epidemiology degrees, including Master of Public Health entry requirements, application deadlines, tuition fees, scholarships, please visit OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools page.

Questions? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1 866-698-7355.

Contact OzTREKK for more information about how you can study in Australia and about public health programs at Australian universities.

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Melbourne Public Health study focuses on threats to health in Australia

Australians live longer, healthier lives than people in almost every other country, but a range of ailments threatens advances made in recent years, a symposium on groundbreaking data at the University of Melbourne reveals.

Professor Alan Lopez, Laureate Professor at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health said obesity in Australia surpassed smoking as a risk factor for premature death.

“Australians have enjoyed significantly improved health from 1990 to 2010, and that is largely due to bold public health interventions. We can thank two decades’ worth of campaigns by state and federal governments for driving down premature deaths from road injury, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), tobacco and other health dangers,” Professor Lopez said.

The data from the landmark Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study shows life expectancy has increased for both men and women in Australia. On average, a newborn girl can now expect to live 83.8 years, and a newborn boy, 79.2 years. By 2010, only men in Iceland, Switzerland and Japan were living longer. These data mark a significant improvement since 1990, when women on average lived to 80, and men less than 74.

The study shows heart disease is the leading cause of death and disability for Australians, with poor diet being the biggest risk factor and the impacts of drugs, depression and Alzheimer’s disease are on the rise.

Alzheimer’s has increased from 26th place in 1990 to ninth in 2010 as a cause of premature death, and the number of years of life lost. The number of people with Alzheimer’s has increased by 170%—far more than any other leading disease.

The study is a collaborative project led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle, and includes the University of Melbourne as a key research partner. The study details health trends for demographics, disease and disability for 187 countries. The work, which involved researchers at more than 300 institutions in 50 countries, generated one billion estimates for health challenges. It was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Professor Alan Lopez, co-founded the original GBD study in 1990 and has played a lead role in its evolution since then.

The top causes of premature death in Australia are ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and stroke, but the impacts of heart disease and stroke are decreasing despite their relatively high rankings.

“Australia clearly has much to be proud of in terms of its health achievements, but policy makers and health experts must focus on the remaining threats to health,” explained IHME Director and GBD Co-founder Dr Christopher Murray.

“The health of Australians is increasingly challenged. Lifestyle choices constitute a major threat to health in Australia. The numbers of years of health loss due to obesity, alcohol and drug use are all increasing. In particular, Australians are grappling with soaring rates of obesity due to poor diets, physical inactivity, and high BMI, blood sugar and cholesterol.”

Master of Public Health

The Melbourne Master of Public Health program teaches students to recognize and seek to understand the social determinants of health and disease, the molecular basis of disease in populations, and the influence of physical, social and cultural environments. Prime emphasis is placed on the prevention of disease and injury and the promotion of health and well-being. This  program maintains a strong focus on the systems and services that society puts in place to effect these aims, their efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and their impact on equity and social justice. The Melbourne Master of Public Health orients students toward future careers as leaders in public health and health care.

Melbourne Master of Public Health Specializations

  • Epidemiology & Biostatistics
  • Gender and Women’s Health
  • Global Health
  • Health Economics & Economic Evaluation
  • Health Program Evaluation
  • Health Social Sciences
  • Indigenous Health
  • Sexual Health

Apply to the University of Melbourne Public Health School!

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For more information about public health degrees, international public health degrees and epidemiology degrees, including Master of Public Health entry requirements, application deadlines, tuition fees, scholarships, please visit OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools page.

If you have any questions, please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools Admissions Officer Rachel Brady by emailing rachel@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1 866-698-7355.

Contact OzTREKK for more information about how you can study in Australia and about public health programs at Australian universities.

 

Friday, April 26th, 2013

University of Newcastle wins international public health conference

More than 400 medical and public health education experts will flock to Newcastle in March 2015 for The Asian Medical Education Association (AMEA) Conference 2015 to be held at the University of Newcastle, the university is reporting today.

The University of Newcastle’s School of Medicine and Public Health won a bid for the prestigious international event that is expected to inject more than $1 million into the Newcastle economy, the university said.

The 2015 event will mark the first time the biennial conference has been held outside of Asia. Scheduled for March 31 to April 2, 2015, University of Newcastle said it will be attended by healthcare professionals and educators from around the world and will cover such topics as education leadership, education standards, innovation in education and challenges in clinical training.

The successful bid was led by the University of Newcastle’s Head of the School of Medicine and Public Health, Professor Ian Symonds, who worked alongside Business Events Sydney (the state’s convention bureau) and the Newcastle Convention Bureau to secure the conference, the university said.

“The University of Newcastle is ranked among the top three per cent of universities worldwide,” Symonds told Newcastle. “We have a reputation for delivering world-class innovation, with more than 40 fields of research undertaken at the university being rated at, above, or well above world standard.”

Business Events Sydney CEO Lyn Lewis-Smith told the university that the conference provides an excellent opportunity to showcase the expertise and innovation of the Public Health School and the University of Newcastle, as well as the appeal of NSW’s regions.

“The university is engaged in ground-breaking research in the fields of health and medicine and the AMEA conference is the perfect opportunity to showcase this on the world stage,” Lewis-Smith told Newcastle. “The conference will shine the spotlight not only on the university, but also on Newcastle and the vast array of venues, knowledge hubs and attractions the region has to offer.”

More about University of Newcastle Public Health School

The aim of the University of Newcastle’s Master of Public Health is to provide graduates with the skills required to improve population health through appropriate planning for the health needs of populations or specific at-risk groups; the assessment of social, behavioural and environmental determinants of health and illness; the development and implementation of effective and efficient approaches to health services and programs; and the appropriate evaluation and improvement of population health services and programs using appropriate research methods.

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You could be studying at the University of Newcastle when this conference happens! Find out more about studying public health at the University of Newcastleapply through OzTREKK today.

Monday, April 8th, 2013

University of Sydney Public Health applications are open

Applications for the Master of Public Health and the Master of International Public Health programs at the University of Sydney Public Health School are now open for the 2014 intake via OzTREKK!

The Sydney School of Public Health is a vibrant, multidisciplinary network of individuals and centres which combine to provide exceptional and internationally recognized education opportunities in the field of public health.

The public health program at the University of Sydney Public Health School focuses on the prevention of illness and the promotion of health, with practitioners playing a proactive rather than a reactive role, especially with regard to the coordination of relevant community resources. The program provides the opportunity to develop skills and acquire knowledge essential for the effective practice of public health, including the effective management of community health problems.

Program: Master of Public Health
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: March and July
Duration: 1 year
Application deadline: Application deadlines for the University of Sydney’s Master of Public Health are April 30, 2013 for the July 2013 intake; and October 31, 2013 for the March 2014 intake.

Entry Requirements: A successful applicant for admission to the Master of Public Health program requires

  • a minimum four-year full time degree or equivalent qualification from the University of Sydney or an equivalent qualification; or
  • a shorter degree from the University of Sydney or an equivalent qualification, and non-degree professional qualifications and/or substantial relevant experience and/or other relevant qualifications.

International public health is concerned with public health in low- and middle-income countries. The University of Sydney’s staff has extensive international experience working in countries like Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam in Asia, and Ghana, Kenya and Uganda in sub-Saharan Africa. Their international public health courses cover control of infectious diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS, as well as the new epidemic of non-communicable diseases.

Program: Master of International Public Health
Location: Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intake: March and July
Duration: 1 year
Application deadline: Application deadlines for the University of Sydney’s Master of International Public Health are April 30, 2013 for the July 2013 intake; and October 31, 2013 for the March 2014 intake.

Entry Requirements: A successful applicant for admission to the degree of Master of International Public Health requires a four-year degree from the University of Sydney or equivalent qualification. In exceptional circumstances the dean may admit applicants without this qualification who, in the opinion of the school, have qualifications and evidence of experience and achievement sufficient to successfully undertake the award.

Apply to the University of Sydney Public Health School!

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For more information about public health degrees, international public health degrees and epidemiology degrees, including Master of Public Health entry requirements, application deadlines, tuition fees, scholarships, please visit OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools page.

If you have any questions, please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools Admissions Officer Rachel Brady or Admissions Manager Beth McNally.

Email Rachel at rachel@oztrekk.com or Beth at beth@oztrekk.com; or call toll free in Canada at 1 866-698-7355.

Contact OzTREKK for more information about how you can study in Australia and about public health programs at Australian universities.

 

Monday, April 8th, 2013

University of Newcastle Public Health applications are open

Applications for the Master of Public Health program at the University of Newcastle Public Health School is now open for the 2014 intake via OzTREKK!

The Master of Public Health program at the University of Newcastle provides its students with opportunities to undertake professional development and develop a strong foundation in public health. The program will be of interest to individuals of all ages, at any stage of their career, who have a basic undergraduate degree in health and are working in, or intending to work in, the area of public health. This includes clinicians and allied health professionals, health planners and managers, individuals working in health promotion, health protection or health surveillance.

Program: Master of Public Health
Location: Newcastle, New South Wales
Semester intake: February
Duration: 1 year
Application deadline: While there is no set application deadline for this public health program, applicants are strongly encouraged by the University of Newcastle to submit their applications a minimum of three months prior to the program’s start date.

Entry Requirements: To be eligible to apply, you must have a bachelor degree in an approved health-related discipline; or other qualifications approved by the pro-vice-chancellor, Faculty of Health.

Apply to the University of Newcastle Public Health School!

*

For more information about public health degrees, international public health degrees and epidemiology degrees, including Master of Public Health entry requirements, application deadlines, tuition fees, scholarships, please visit OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools page.

If you have any questions, please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools Admissions Officer Rachel Brady or Admissions Manager Beth McNally.

Email Rachel at rachel@oztrekk.com or Beth at beth@oztrekk.com; or call toll free in Canada at 1 866-698-7355.

Contact OzTREKK for more information about how you can study in Australia and about public health programs at Australian universities.

 

Monday, April 8th, 2013

University of Melbourne Public Health applications are open

Applications for the Master of Public Health and Master of Epidemiology programs at the University of Melbourne Public Health School are now open for the 2014 intake via OzTREKK!

The School of Population Health at the University of Melbourne has expertise in traditional public health sciences as well as in social sciences, ethics and medical humanities, and in newer molecular and genetic epidemiology disciplines. This breadth sets the school apart in public health training and provides our students with key advantages. The school is committed to providing a high-quality educational experience, an exciting range of professional education, research training and employment opportunities, and a strong graduate network.

The University of Melbourne’s Master of Public Health (MPH) teaches students to recognize and seek to understand the social determinants of health and disease, the molecular basis of disease in populations, and the influence of physical, social and cultural environments. Prime emphasis is placed on the prevention of disease and injury and the promotion of health and well-being. The Master of Public Health program maintains a strong focus on the systems and services that society puts in place to effect these aims, their efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and their impact on equity and social justice.

Program: Master of Public Health
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Semester intake: February/March
Duration: 1.5 – 2 years (depending on background of candidate)
Application deadline: While there is no set application deadline for this public health program, applicants are strongly encouraged by the University of Melbourne to submit their applications a minimum of three months prior to the program’s start date.

Entry Requirements: To be eligible to apply, you must have an undergraduate degree in any discipline; or at least 200 points of tertiary study (equal to two full-time years of study) in any discipline and at least five years of documented relevant health-related experience.

The Master of Epidemiology provides a solid foundation in epidemiological and analytical skills for those who aim to develop their understanding of the epidemiological and biostatistical theory and methods that underpin epidemiological practice and research, build competence in critical appraisal, and develop core skills for research and practice in epidemiology.

Epidemiologists often specialize in communicable disease control, clinical epidemiology and non-communicable or chronic disease epidemiology. The job differs from other public health roles through its focus on methodological knowledge and skills, as opposed to, for example, public health project implementation.

Program: Master of Epidemiology
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Semester intake: February/March
Duration: 1 year
Application deadline: While there is no set application deadline for this epidemiology program, applicants are strongly encouraged by University of Melbourne to submit their applications a minimum of three months prior to the program’s start date.

Entry Requirements: To apply to Melbourne’s Master of Epidemiology, eligible Canadian applicants must have

  • an honours degree in a relevant discipline with a minimum 70% cumulative average in your university studies; or
  • a medical degree; or
  • a postgraduate diploma in epidemiology with at least a 70% average or equivalent; or
  • a degree in a relevant discipline with at least a 70% cumulative average and two years of relevant documented full-time work experience.

Apply to the University of Melbourne Public Health School!

*

For more information about public health degrees, international public health degrees and epidemiology degrees, including Master of Public Health entry requirements, application deadlines, tuition fees, scholarships, please visit OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools page.

If you have any questions, please contact OzTREKK’s Australian Public Health Schools Admissions Officer Rachel Brady or Admissions Manager Beth McNally.

Email Rachel at rachel@oztrekk.com or Beth at beth@oztrekk.com; or call toll free in Canada at 1 866-698-7355.

Contact OzTREKK for more information about how you can study in Australia and about public health programs at Australian universities.