SDSU hosts global health conference

Jordan Owen, Senior Staff Photographer


Jordan Owen, Senior Staff Photographer

by Andrea Ciardiello

On Sept. 19, San Diego State hosted its first public health symposium of the academic year in Peterson Gym to discuss Seed Global Health, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the importance of public service in global health.

SDSU President Elliot Hirshman kicked off the free lecture by welcoming main speaker and CEO of Seed Global Health Vanessa Kerry to share “A New Health Diplomacy,” her unique perspective on worldwide health care.

Kerry discussed that Seed Global Health’s mission is to strengthen health systems on a global scale by partnering U.S. health care providers with local educators in foreign countries to help train medical staff. It is Seed Global Health’s belief that these educational partnerships are the key to increasing the pool of physicians and nurses in countries that desperately need to maximize their medical personnel.

To bring Seed Global Health’s mission to life, it has partnered with the Peace Corps, Massachusetts General Hospital, and partner countries to manage and train the next generation of leading physicians and nurses in countries that don’t have the proper resources to do so.

“Good health changes lives, societies and even countries,” Kerry said. “By sending Doctors and nurses abroad to work as medical educators alongside local faculty, our program is helping address the gaps in access to quality health care.”

Jordan Owen, Senior Staff Photographer

For the panel discussion portion, Kerry was later joined by SDSU professor of global health Thomas Novotny, district governor-elect of the Rotary Clubs of Southern California Janice Kurth and SDSU’s campus Peace Corps recruiter Amber Lung.


Novotny, the faculty organizer for the event, said he invited Kerry in hopes that the SDSU community could better understand the importance of public service and its effect on international health.

“Global health is domestic, our health in this country depends on us understanding and working on health problems that might seem like they’re abroad but they actually do affect us,” Novotny said. “There is a great need for global public service, we are all citizens of this earth and the U.S. especially is seen as a leader and we almost have an obligation to become more engaged in global health.”


Kerry also said health professionals aren’t the only people that can help.

“The most important thing to take away in order to increase global health care is the realization that it’s very multifaceted and everybody can make a contribution,” Kerry said. “We need global health lawyers, administrators, or people that can just come up with more effective solutions for patient flow.”


In closing, Kerry said students also hold a valuable position in the movement towards better health worldwide.

“The role that SDSU students and alumni can play in bettering global health is by demanding better health care and better equity globally, but also within this country …  And by not saying ‘I can’t do anything about it’ because it’s common voices in a moment in time that can make all the difference,” Kerry said.