March 26, 2004

World Health Week to kick off Monday

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James E. “Pete” Powell, M.D., was recently named medical director of VMG’s Williamson County division. Photo by Dana Johnson

World Health Week to kick off Monday

The 16th annual World Health Week begins Monday. The series of lunch lectures are sponsored by the Committee on International Medical Education and the Vanderbilt School of Medicine to bring world health awareness to Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“I think the world is a smaller and smaller place,” said Steven G. Gabbe, dean of the School of Medicine. “And we’re placing a greater emphasis on global health here at the School of Medicine.”

“The purpose of this week is not only to educate, but to broaden awareness about issues in international health,” said second-year student and event-organizer Tracey Wilkinson. “In addition, we invite experts in the various fields of international health, giving the entire medical center an opportunity to personally meet and hear about their thoughts, motivations and experiences. Furthermore, we hope that students are inspired to get involved and make a difference during their own careers and to make advancements in international health.”

Joseph Makhema, M.D., will kick off the weeklong event on Monday with his lecture “National Response to the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: The Botswana Experience.” Makhema is the co-director and senior clinical research manager for the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute, and a member of the Royal College of Physicians. Makhema will speak about his experiences treating patients in Botswana, an area ravaged by HIV/AIDS.

Tuesday’s lecture will feature Walter A. Orenstein, M.D., who will present “Eradication of Vaccine-Preventable Disease: Lessons from Smallpox, Polio and Measles.” Orenstein served as the director of the National Immunization Program at the Center for Disease Control prior to accepting a position at Emory University this year. He is an expert on smallpox, measles and polio eradication worldwide and has worked in India, South America and Israel as a consultant on immunization programs.

“Seeing the Invisible: Childhood Obesity and Type II Diabetes on the U.S.-Mexico Border” is the topic of Wednesday’s event, presented by Paul Villas, M.Ph., D.Ed. Villas is the executive director of the Texas-Mexico Border Health Office at the University of Texas-Pan American in McAllen, Texas.

During the closing event of World Health Week, Khassan Baiev, M.D., will present “Preparing for the Worst: A Chechen Physician in War.” Baiev will discuss his experience being the only doctor for 80,000 residents and 5,000 refugees in his native Chechnya, treating civilians, Russian soldiers and Chechen soldiers. Baiev also turned his experience into an autobiography “The Oath.”

All lectures will be held at noon in 208 Light Hall. Lunch will be provided. Those interested in attending should R.S.V.P. by email to