by Work the World

“Public Health” is really a rather dull name isn’t it? I don’t know why but when I hear the phrase it conjures up images of lines of terrified school children queuing to receive a vaccination from stern-looking, robust nurses, or humourless government advertising campaigns: “Coughs and sneezes spread diseases – trap the germs in your handkerchief”....

But if you stop to think about it, Public Health is actually one of the most exciting and dynamic areas of healthcare that you could go into; just think of the story of Edward Jenner and Smallpox – how cool would it be to wipe an entire disease off the face of the planet?! And imagine how smug John Snow must have been when he was able to trace an East London cholera outbreak to a single pump in Broad Street....These days of course such discoveries would make you a shoe-in for a Nobel prize, although you might have to go to extreme lengths to achieve it; Marshall and Warren had to deliberately infect themselves with Helicobacter pylori because nobody would believe that a bacterium could survive in the stomach, let alone cause ulcers!

Public Health is also a very political subject, constantly falling between the two stools of the best interests of the population and the rights of the individual, and whether the government should be doing more to protect people from the dangers of smoking/alocohol/saturated fats/etc, or whether we are in danger of turning into a “nanny state”...

At Work the World we believe that some battles are worth fighting, which is why we have recently thrown our weight behind an exciting new HIV/AIDS education initiative in Tanzania. In partnership with the children’s charity COCO (The “Comrades of Children Overseas”, set up by former British Olympian Steve Cram) we are working to provide education, advice and guidance to communities of young people under threat of contracting this terrifying disease. We are hoping that this will be the first in a series of similar projects looking to tackle some of the biggest threats to our destination countries in the 21st century. But we can’t do it without your help.

To find out more about our Public Health projects please look on your relevant country website – on the UK website it can be found in the “Placements” drop-down section; on the North American websites you can access it through our “Electives” page!

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