Archivos Mensuales: diciembre 2012

Cuba offers American Students a Free Education


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Huntington Park native, Vanessa Ávila, 27, always dreamed of being a doctor. However, with an average price tag of well over $100,000, a medical school education seemed like a daunting debt. More so, with the price of MCAT prep courses, and application fees, even simply applying seemed out of her reach. That all changed when she learned about a revolutionary new medical school in Cuba.  The Latin American School of Medicine, better known as ELAM, offers full scholarships to aspiring young doctors from around the world, including the United States. The only caveat is they must come from low-income backgrounds and practice medicine in their own communities after they graduate.

Vanessa Ávila, center, at ELAM with two of her classmates.

Vanessa Ávila, center, at ELAM with two of her classmates.

Many of the 10,000 students from 28 different countries are drawn to ELAM because of the full scholarship, which covers: six years of tuition, room and board, books, and uniforms. Nonetheless, there is more to the puzzle than simple economics. For Ávila, it was the opportunity to learn medicine in a country that does things very differently than the U.S. She was interested in the Cuban approach to medicine focused on universal coverage, preventive care and a holistic approach to patient treatment.

“They really focus on the individual and, not just telling them this is what you need to do, but actually helping them understand why they need to make these lifestyle changes to improve their health,” Ávila said. “Doctors spend more time getting to know their patients and their communities by making home visits.”

Ávila is not only learning about medicine, but also about the Cuban people. She is amazed by their creativity, resourcefulness and resiliency. The spirit of solidarity they have shown her is another thing she will bring back to the U.S. with her; a result that the Cuban government is undoubtedly pleased with. The U.S. and Cuba have strained relations dating back, before the 1962 embargo, that cut ties between the two nations. While in the U.S., legislature is working to ease travel restrictions, Cuba is creating a cultural exchange through its scholarship program. American students get the chance to get an up-close and personal look at Cuban culture. These are experiences that they will most likely share with others, and that might change Cuba’s image in the U.S.

Cuba’s health model appears to be working very well for them. Despite being one of the poorest countries in Latin America, with a per capita income of less than $5,400 a year, Cuba boasts health indicators that rival wealthy nations. According to the World Health Organization, Cuba has higher life expectancy and lower infant mortality rates than U.S.

Ávila watches daily Cuban medical professionals stretch their resources in order to help everyone, she says. This is a major contrast from the U.S., where, according to Ávila, resources are abundant, yet some of the most vulnerable individuals go without health care. She hopes to use what she has learned at ELAM to help those underserved people in her own community. As a primary care doctor in Huntington Park, she will offer culture competent care and introduce Havana-style health care wherever she can.


“HeadStart” on Developmental Health in Youth; from Low Income Families

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The National Head Start Association is instrumental in providing underprivileged children with health care and services
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According the the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, developmental health issues are more prevalent among minority children that live at, or below, the poverty line.

Historically, mental health research in America was established and normalized on a Caucasian and European based population, excluding the importance of understanding racial & ethnic groups, as well as their beliefs, traditions, and values. Results of such exclusion have a massive impact on Americans of different cultural makeup.

Organizations with an ethnic and cultural conscience are combating the institutionalized disadvantages of minorities. The Office of Minority Health (OMH), is an organization whose main objective is “to improve health and healthcare outcomes for racial and ethnic minority communities by developing or advancing polices, programs, and practices that address health, social, economic, environmental and other factors which impact health.”

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With 40% of Californian's lacking health care, how many children are suffering from lack of medicare?  Photo Courtesy of:

With 40% of Californian’s lacking health care, how many children are suffering from lack of medicare?
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Acknowledging that there are developmental health issues facing children from low-income families, is a step in the right direction. A program in place that is proven to make a positive impact is the National Head Start Association or NHSA. With a mission statement that strives to achieve such feats as helping to create “healthier, empowered children and families as well as more vibrant communities”, NHSA will help combat early health indicators in all enrolled youth.

NHSA has resources offering guidance on how to design and manage mental health services, as well as coordinate services with community mental health agencies. Parents with children enrolled in the “Head Start” program can take advantage of services like Early Mental Health Consultation and Social and Emotional Development workshops. Screening and assessment is available for children who may be demonstrating high-risk behaviors. The nation-wide organization has locations spread throughout the San Fernando Valley.

Diabetes Increases in CSUN Community as Much as in General Population


Sharon Aronoff in her office at the Klotz Student Health Center. Photo by Shaleeka Powell.

California State University Northridge (CSUN) campus mimics the greater population and sees an increase of diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic disease that is on the rise. If you have diabetes, you are at least twice as likely, as someone who does not have diabetes, to have heart disease or a stroke.

A recommended meal in Ellen Bauersfeld's office for individuals with or trying to prevent diabetes.

A recommended meal in Ellen Bauersfeld’s office for individuals with or trying to prevent diabetes. Photo by Shaleeka Powell.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, 18 million people in the U.S. population were diagnosed with diabetes.

The results of the National College Health Assessment done by the center every two years on CSUN’s campus shows that 1 percent of the students have been diagnosed or treated for diabetes by a professional within the last 12 months.

In this interview Sharon Aronoff, Health Educator and Student Health Outreach Promotion representative at the Klotz Student Health Center on the university’s campus shares the services the center provides. The Klotz Students  Center provides testing, nutrition education and general resources for students living with or at risk for diabetes.

Ellen Bauersfeld in her office at the Klotz Student Health Center.

Ellen Bauersfeld in her office at the Klotz Student Health Center. Photo by Shaleeka Powell.

Ellen Bauersfeld, Registered Dietitian at the Health Center, provides one on one nutrition counseling for all students who attend the university. She sees students  that want to lose or gain weight, are vegetarians, or have been diagnosed with diabetes, high cholesterol or any other disease that can be helped with a medical intervention.

Examples of recommended healthy food in Ellen Bauersfeld's office.

Examples of recommended healthy food in Ellen Bauersfeld’s office. Photo by Shaleeka Powell.

According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Report, Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes and type 2 diabetes accounts for about 95 percent of diagnosed diabetes in adults. In the interview Bauersfeld discusses what both Type 1 and 2 Diabetes are and what individuals can do treat the diseases.

CSUN students are concerned about the increased percentage of individuals that have diabetes. Sophia Lopez, Nutrition and Dietetic major, has been exposed to diabetes since she was 8 years old. In the interview she talks about her experience witnessing two of her  8-year-old friends, who were born with the disease, inject their insulin shots before every meal.

Nina Farokhfol, a child development major, knows two individuals with the disease and she gives a preventative tip in the interview.
There are different foods individuals should consume to prevent diabetes from occurring. In the interview Bauersfeld recommends different foods individuals should eat.

Several studies have shown that healthy eating and regular physical activity, used with medication if prescribed, can help control health complications from type 2 diabetes or can prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.