April 23, 2009 10:51 Age: 5 yrs

Students Participate in Summer Research Projects in Global Health Law

Emory University School of Law’s new Global Health Law & Policy Project is funding five student summer research projects through an Emory Global Health Institute grant.

“On average, the five will receive $5,000 each,” says Chad Slieper 05L, director of the Global Health Law and Policy Project. “We are training students to make a difference in global health. Lawyers don’t know how they fit into global health. Our goal is to provide a path way for them.”

Students will spend eight to 10 weeks in Rwanda, Switzerland and Liberia.

AIDS Relief in Rwanda
Daniel A. Hougendobler 11L will investigate the effects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief on prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS in Rwanda.

“The plan has so many restrictions,” Hougendobler said. “I’ll be looking at how those restrictions affect distribution of the money.  The emphasis of treatment over prevention has been somewhat controversial.”

An JD/MPH candidate, Hougendobler decided his talents were geared more toward research and writing than clinical care.

“I decided to go to law school and get a joint degree, which is perfect,” he said. “I want go into international work and global health care is a perfect fit.”

Hougendobler will spend 10 weeks doing legal research.

“I’ll be looking at the legislation and legislative history and how the restrictions have affected what could be done in Rwanda,” he said. “My research skills will come in handy. I will write a paper from a legal research perspective on how to tweak the law to best serve Rwandans.”

The paper will be sent to policymakers. “If I get lucky, I’ll get it published for a wider audience.”

The World Health Organization and Tobacco Control
Simeon Niles 11L and Tara Ramanathan 10L will work with the World Health Organization in Geneva, examining how the implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is affecting global public health. There are 160 member countries of the Convention. The United States is not a member.

“The Tobacco Free Institute at the WHO addresses a unique public health problem,” said Ramanathan, who earned her MPH at Johns Hopkins University in 2007.

“Smoking cessation may be a longstanding campaign in America and Europe, but tobacco use is on the rise in many other parts of the world, and working to fight addiction and unethical advertising and trade promises to be an critical task for lawyers and public health advocates alike.”

Niles, who is a joint JD/MPH candidate, will examine whether a ban on tobacco advertising is constitutional.

“I’ll be doing legislative tracking and writing briefs on where there is legislation that mirrors the Convention and how far into the process the country is,” Niles said.

Ramanathan will examine the scientific bases for promoting tobacco regulation among member states.

“Our work is geared toward producing and writing guidelines for use by countries seeking to pass laws regulating tobacco products and curb the illnesses that result from long-term tobacco use,” said Ramanathan of hers and Niles summer projects.

Public Health in Liberia
Two students will research public health issues—gender-based violence and waste management—in Liberia.

Courtney O’Donnell 10L will serve as a special assistant to the chief prosecutor of the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Crimes unit of the Liberian Ministry of Justice.

“It’s a brand new unit in the Ministry of Justice that is overseeing sexual and gender-based violence crimes from reporting through to adjudication,” O’Donnell said. “In addition to assisting in the operation of the unit, I will be researching how to improve coordination between health care providers, law enforcement, and
prosecutors in responding to sexual and gender-based violence crimes.

"The goal of the unit is to provide a holistic response to these crimes, O’Donnell said.

“There are high rates of sexual and gender-based violence crimes in Liberia and ongoing impunity for such crimes,” O’Donnell said. “Through building rule of law and access to justice, the successful operation of the unit would eventually prevent future violence against women and improve women's health in Liberia.”

O’Donnell also will be involved in developing operating procedures for the unit.

Jeannine W. Privat 10L will research ways to resolve the waste management crisis in Liberia.

“I’ll be based with DUCOR Waste Management, an organization trying to resolve public waste management issues in Liberia,” Privat said. “After the civil war, a lack of infrastructure designed to address solid waste and medical waste has contributed to a severe waste management crisis, which is creating public health problems.

“Through discussions with stakeholders in Liberia and research of international environmental laws, global health strategies, domestic Liberian law, and regional African laws, my work will be aimed at assessing the current state of the waste management problems facing Liberia and discovering possible remedies,” Privat said.

Privat’s research will focus on a network approach combining information, scholarship and ideas from the legal and public health sectors to create an effective and coordinated waste management system.

Both students will be based in Monrovia, Liberia.

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