Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D., founder of Hope Through Healing Hands, and Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, led a community conversation Monday in Belmont’s Maddox Grand Atrium on “The Mother & Child Project: Simple Steps to Saving Lives in the Developing World.” This was the first public event held by the Faith-Based Coalition for Healthy Mothers and Children Worldwide, a joint partnership of Hope Through Healing Hands (HTHH), a Nashville-based global health organization, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
More than 250 individuals representing the faith community, global health NGO and higher-education sectors throughout greater Nashville attended the discussion, hosted by Belmont University. In addition to opening the event, Belmont Provost Dr. Thomas Burns and Hope Through Healing Hands (HTHH) Executive Director Dr. Jenny Eaton Dyer also announced that this fall they would award the first Frist Global Health Fellowship to enable a Belmont graduate student to be immersed for a semester in a global health experience.
U.S. Olympic figure skating champion Scott Hamilton, who with his wife Tracie is an active global health advocate, moderated the event, posing questions to Frist and Gates about their experiences.
“As I began to talk with women around the world, it became very clear to me the spacing and timing of pregnancies we take for granted in the U.S. is a matter of life and death for them,” said Gates. “So I got very involved in contraceptives, because it truly starts the cycle of life, where they can feed their children, get their children in school, and honestly, not die themselves.”
Sen. Frist agreed, saying, “Contraception is a pro-life cause.” He went on to explain that, “…if you delay first pregnancy to 18 years old, you can increase survival in countries where one in 39 women die in childbirth, and cut the chance of children dying by 30 percent, enabling them to stay in school and become productive members of families.”
“Second, if you can push out the interval between pregnancies to three year period, the child is twice as likely to survive the newborn stage.”
Today, more than 200 million women in developing countries want the ability to plan if and when they become pregnant, but lack access to information about planning their families. Increasing access to a range of contraceptive options, and providing women with the ability to time and space their births, is critical to improving the health of mothers and children.
At the event, Gates reflected on her upbringing in Dallas, Texas, where she attended Catholic parochial school from grades K-12, and confirmed she remains a practicing member of the Catholic Church. While Gates recognizes the tension between her work and the Church’s position on contraceptives, she has found common ground on healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies, even though organizations embrace different tools to achieve it.
Sen. Frist expressed his support for Gates’s efforts, explaining that the Faith-based Coalition for Healthy Mothers and Children Worldwide has a critical role to play in engaging members of the faith community to help disseminate this simple message.
He likened this initiative to a similar movement of Americans in 2002 that shared a vision with houses of worship across all faiths, which lead to the support and eventual funding of PEPFAR, the largest health initiative in history that turned the tide on the HIV/AIDS.
“The millions of people dying of HIV/AIDS worldwide led to a major U.S. tax-payer led movement to save lives, resulting in more than what is now 12.9 million individuals currently on anti-retroviral medicine,” he said, noting the Coalition’s efforts could save over 287,000 women’s lives each year.
The Faith Based Coalition on Healthy Mothers and Children Worldwide’s mission is to galvanize support among faith leaders across the U.S. on the issues of maternal, newborn and child health in developing countries. The coalition will place a particular emphasis on the benefits of healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies, including access to a range of contraceptive options, in alignment with its members’ unifying values and religious beliefs.
Several faith leaders already involved in this issue also participated in the program by echoing their support of this new initiative. “The best way to see change in Africa is to change the lives of African mothers,” said Steve Taylor, recording artist and filmmaker.
Jena Lee Nardella, co-founder with Jars of Clay of Blood:Water Mission, shared their experience in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. “We were inspired not by the statistics, but by the compelling stories. As a Church, let’s not forget to tell the story, but make it personal.”
Mike Glenn, pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church, added, “The Evangelical church is often accused of loving the child and not the mother; but in doing so, we lose God’s mosaic. We believe in ‘Imago Dei,’ the dignity of every human being.”
“It all comes down to the mother and child nexus and the healthy timing and spacing of births,” Sen. Frist concluded.
Dr. Edgar Diaz-Cruz, assistant professor of Pharmacy, was recently published in the journal. Frontiers in Oncology, for research he and his colleagues conducted on human pancreatic cancer. The study, entitled Human pancreatic cancer-associated stellate cells remain activated after in vivo chemoradiation, showed that human tumor-derived pancreatic stellate cells survive both in vivo chemo- and radiotherapy. The data supports the idea that stellate cells play an essential role in supporting and promoting pancreatic cancer and may lead to new treatments targeting the pancreatic tumor microenvironment. The team included researchers from the National Cancer Informatics Program, the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University, the University of Texas, the German Research Center for Environmental Health, and ETH Zurich in Switzerland.
Students and faculty from Belmont University’s College of Pharmacy recently completed a year-long project to create an inventory system at the Moore Pediatric Surgery Center in Guatemala City, Guatemala. The project started last July and included four separate mission trips from the College with a total of 23 students and faculty contributing. The most recent team finished the expansive project to catalog the contents of the surgery center which includes three operating rooms and 21 beds. The inventory system was built from scratch, tested, launched and, during this last visit, turned over to the surgery center’s local management.
The team was led by Dr. Eric Hobson, professor of Pharmacy, who was joined on this most recent trip by his family, including his son, Garrett, who will enter Belmont as a freshman this fall. Dr. Hobson has directed all four of the teams that have contributed to this project. The students on the most recent team included Candice Beam, Kyla Cunico, Alex Ernst, Meredith Ervin, Chelsey Manire and Kandice Squires, all third-year PharmD students, and Kristen Conrad, a second-year student. “I had to go back to Guatemala,” said Squires, who has also been part of previous project teams. “I claimed `dibs’ on bringing order to the hospital’s third-floor ‘black hole’ storage room. And, we did it!”
Allison Bender, Executive Director of The Shalom Foundation, the Franklin, Tennessee not-for-profit that built the Moore Pediatric Surgery Center, called the Belmont teams’ service to the organization, “a true blessing.” She added, “Now, the Moore Center staff can be more efficient, and be better stewards of donated resources. Most important, the inventory system that our Belmont friends have built helps us provide the hundreds of Guatemalan children entrusted to our medical care each year an even safer, better experience. God’s work requires many skill sets, and The Shalom Foundation knows that Belmont University community is home to varied talents and a commitment to service.”
Dr. Condit Steil, professor of Pharmacy, Dr. Mark Chirico, a former faculty member in the College of Pharmacy, and Dr. Richard Thompson from Lipscomb University have co-authored a manuscript accepted for print publication in August by Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning. The article describes the implementation and first two years of follow-up of a novel interprofessional program which includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing at Vanderbilt University, the Social Work Department at Tennessee State University, the College of Pharmacy at Lipscomb University, and the College of Pharmacy at Belmont University. The study suggests positive benefits, as well as some areas for improvement, of interprofessional students working together in experiential settings and provides a format for other institutions to follow. The article is available electronically by clicking here.
This past weekend, Belmont College of Pharmacy students teamed up with Walgreens and Nashville Cares to administer free HIV tests at Walgreens locations around Middle Tennessee. The free testing was part of the Greater Than AIDS campaign and was in honor of National HIV Testing Day. The students participating in the event were members of the Belmont chapter of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) who had completed HIV testing and counseling training with Nashville Cares and become certified in the Spring. SNPhA plans to offer the training to its other members during the upcoming school year. SNPhA hopes to maintain their partnership with Nashville Cares so that they can continue to serve their community through HIV education and early detection.
Erin L. Wikle, assistant to the dean in the College of Pharmacy, has published an article on new Tennessee legislation impacting women who use narcotic drugs while pregnant. The law, effective July 1, states that a woman can be prosecuted for assault if she takes a narcotic drug while pregnant and the baby is born addicted, is harmed or dies as a result. Wikle discusses services offered by The Salvation Army in Tennessee to support both the mother and effected family members. She also proposes key questions that result from the controversy of the legislation. Click here to read the article.
A small group of faculty and students from Belmont University College of Pharmacy recently traveled to Honduras as part of the Baptist Medical Dental Mission to that country. Dr. Adam Pace, Dr. Alisa Spinelli, and two fourth year pharmacy students, Erin Oakley and Erin Mullen, joined a team of about 30 medical professionals who made the trip.
The team set up a medical clinic, dentistry clinic, and pharmacy in a schoolhouse in El Cedrito, a mountain village in the state of Yoro, and saw approximately 1500 patients. About 5,000 prescriptions were dispensed through the pharmacy, 250 teeth were pulled by the dentist and 200 pairs of eyeglasses were distributed. In addition, 180 individuals either professed a new found faith in Jesus Christ or expressed a renewal of their Christian commitment during the church services or through personal evangelism at the medical stations.
The Nashville Business Journal has named Dr. Phil Johnston, dean of Belmont’s College of Pharmacy, as a Health Care Hero. Winners were selected for their contributions to Music City’s health community by a panel of industry judges. Johnston was recognized in the “Health Care Professional Services” category along with other local leaders, including Anne Sumpter Arney of Bone McAllister Norton PLLC, Vicki Estrin of C3/Consulting, Berry Holt of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, Rosemary Plorin of Lovell Communications, Jerry Taylor of Stites & Harbison PLLC and Tommy Yeager of M.J. Harris Construction Services. The honorees will be recognized at an awards luncheon on June 6 at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel and in a special publication in the June 6 print edition of the Nashville Business Journal. The luncheon celebrates “the accomplishments of the leaders, innovators, strategists and caretakers, whose work is helping to grow the region’s health care industry and reinforcing Nashville as the health care capital of the nation.” Belmont University School of Nursing professor Jane Shelby was recognized as a Health Care Hero in 2009.
Fourth-year pharmacy students William Herbert and Myduy Nguyen, along with pharmacy faculty member Dr. Ashton Beggs, recently attended a Hepatitis C Training Workshop. This intensive one-day training provided attendees with knowledge and tools to go into their communities and educate others about Hepatitis C. Topics covered in this workshop include the liver, Hepatitis C transmission, prevention, diagnosis, symptoms, disease progression and management as well as medical treatment.
In 2001, the Hepatitis C Support Project (HCSP) conducted a broad needs assessment for hepatitis C awareness and education. The HCSP determined the most needed resource was a quality hepatitis C educational process that could be widely distributed and utilized throughout underserved communities affected by hepatitis C. To accomplish this objective, HCSP designed a program that covers awareness and education in a training workshop environment. The goal of this program is to provide unbiased and quality education to individuals who can then educate their respective communities on the virus.
Fourth-year pharmacy student, Mary-Martin Johnson, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, recently received the United States Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Practice Award. Johnson was presented the aware by Dr. Chris Lamer, a clinical informaticist with the Indian Health Services. The U.S. Public Health Service created the program to encourage student pharmacists to become active in public health issues. The annual award recognizes student pharmacists who have demonstrated a commitment to public health and public health practice across America.
Johnson was recognized for her work in the American Pharmaceutical Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) chapter within Belmont’s College of Pharmacy. She has served as operation heart chairwoman and patient care coordinator for the organization. Through her efforts sustainable contributions to organizations such as the Barren Plains Hispanic Ministry have been initiated in the last few years. The APhA-ASP chapter has provided migrant workers free blood glucose and blood pressure screenings as well as patient education regarding diabetes and hypertension. In addition, the APhA-ASP chapter provided influenza immunizations to the migrant workers. Additionally, as service chairwoman within the Class of 2015, she has worked with The Little Pantry That Could. The nonprofit organization that provides food and healthcare services to the homeless population in west Nashville. Without a doubt, Johnson embodies the mission of the United States Public Health Service. Through her efforts as a student pharmacist, numerous lives have been changed.