Teah Bayless, DO Teah Bayless, DO

“Good night, sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Literally. For many community members this is all too real a hope as they close their eyes. A simple phrase of seemingly well-intentioned nighttime wishes takes on a whole new meaning when you have been a victim of a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs do not know the difference between a poor man and a rich one. They know no barriers. 

Over the last decade or so, bed bugs have seen resurgence. It is all too often that our patients have to battle these little pests. Though they are not known to carry disease, the CDC and the EPA have referred to bed bugs as a “public health pest. “ Interestingly, no literature exists on the untold costs associated with bed bug infestations — inability to receive care due to inability to get transportation, declines in health status due to inability to get needed services in the home to retard deterioration of a patient’s condition, emotional turmoil, and social isolation associated with bed bugs — to name a few items.  And as this continues to be an issue across the United States and in our local community, being aware of the risk and especially to the risk of vulnerable populations is a must. Instead of cringing and just adding “bed bug infestation” to the problem list, we (as medical teams) must ask ourselves how we can help without creating health care disparities. 

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Janaka Lagoo, MD, MPH Janaka Lagoo, MD, MPH

In getting the opportunity to write this blog, my brainstorming list of topics started to grow. And so I moved from a café napkin to an actual piece of paper. Possible topics included:

How can reverse innovation be championed and scaled in global health?
How can doctor well-being be prioritized from training to practice?
How can we move from buzzwords to lasting action in comprehensively tackling social determinants of health?

The list continued, and I’m already looking forward to more reflection and writing. For now, though, I keep returning to the old adage: start with your story.

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Karen Scherr, M.D., Ph.D. Karen Scherr, M.D., Ph.D.

In the past few decades, the “patient revolution” has empowered patients to become informed, active participants in their own health care experiences. Strong patient-physician communication is at the heart of this revolution. Unfortunately, physicians may be inadvertently undermining this effort due to our underdeveloped communication skills. As part of my doctoral program in consumer behavior, I read more than 300 transcripts of conversations between patients and physicians to better understand how they communicate with each other.

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Clayton Cooper, M.D., MBA Clayton Cooper, M.D., MBA

In late August, I received an email from Duke Family Medicine Residency Program Director Viviana Martinez-Bianchi, M.D., FAAFP, inviting residents to apply as a World Health Organization (WHO) young leader to attend the WHO/UNICEF Global Conference on Primary Health Care in Astana, Kazakhstan. After reading the application, I knew being accepted out of a global group of young health professionals would be a long shot, but the advice of a long-time mentor popped into my head. He told me to always shoot for 50 percent success in what I apply for, because if I am always successful, I will be missing many incredible opportunities. 

In early October, I was invited to experience one of these incredible opportunities as part of a group of 50 young global primary care health professionals invited to attend the conference, as well as special preconference. During the preconference, I met individuals across the spectrum of health professions to discuss issues facing primary health care in our countries and determine policy priorities to building a future that puts primary care at the center of our health care systems. It was stimulating and inspiring to work with people coming from backgrounds and professions so different than mine and to brainstorm solutions to problems as diverse as reliable power sources for rural African clinics to the need for comprehensive payment reform that better compensates primary and preventive care. While we each had unique challenges, we realized that we shared many of the same struggles to bring primary care to the forefront of our health systems.

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Viviana Martinez-Bianchi Viviana Martinez-Bianchi, M.D., FAAFP

http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/113877/E93944.pdfWhile living in Argentina, back in 1978, I was 14 years old when my father, a vascular surgeon, showed me a newspaper article that highlighted the Declaration of Alma Ata. “This,” my father said, citing the call to action to develop primary health care with an emphasis on health equity and health for all, “will make a difference in the health and lives of people of the world.” I read it with attention, and told my dad I wanted “a career that would involve primary care, taking care of babies, children and adults together with teaching and policy making at the world stage.” “What specialty should I go into?” I asked. “That specialty has not been created,” my dad said. “You will find your own path.”

Forty years later, I find myself at the Global Conference on Primary Health Care hosted by the WHO, UNICEF and the Ministry of health of Kazakhstan, an Argentina and U.S.-trained family physician, a clinician and educator representing the World Organization of Family Doctors together with the WONCA Leadership team. Having spent the last year involved in inputs to the Declaration of Astana and collating the collective responses of family doctors from around the world, I have a sense of responsibility to represent, to engage, to collaborate, to listen and to advocate for health for all. In this role, I am making the case for health systems and governments investing in the training of family doctor leaders and members of teams to meet the health care needs of communities worldwide.

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