UW Global Health Director Profiled in Wisconsin State Journal

Know Your Madisonian: Cynthia Haq, UW-Madison Center for

Global Health

From the Wisconsin State Journal
June 6, 2009

Dr. Cynthia Haq directs UW-Madison’s Center for Global Health, formed in 2005. It includes students and faculty from the schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy and veterinary medicine.

Haq also heads up the medical school’s new program in Milwaukee, called Training in Urban Medicine and Public Health. She lives in Madison and Milwaukee.

Q: What are the main programs of the Center for Global Health?

A: About 200 to 300 students a year take global health courses, and about 150 a year go into the field. Our programs are primarily in Mexico, Ecuador, Uganda and Thailand.

In Thailand, students are looking at the public health infrastructure. For a fraction of the money we spend here, the health outcomes there are almost as good. In Uganda, we’re training family doctors and nurses to take care of the whole spectrum of problems. All of Uganda has 2,000 doctors. We have 2,000 doctors here in Madison. Students are also building water tanks in rural villages. In Ecuador, students are helping to build up secondary hospitals.

Q: Why should people in the Madison area care about global health?

A: Throughout Wisconsin, we’ve seen increasing numbers of immigrants. A couple of years ago, a guy working at one of the restaurants on State Street had active tuberculosis for at least six months. He happened to be from North Africa. We also see patients with advanced malaria. If physicians are aware of global health trends, they can do a better job with their patients.

Global health looks at disparities within and across borders. At UW Hospital, we have the best medical facilities in the world. But in Dane County, we have 40,000 people who are uninsured and don’t have access to it.

Q: How did you become interested in global health?

A: My father came from India, and my mother was from Indiana. I grew up partly in Pakistan. When I became a doctor, I wanted to focus my efforts on where the needs were greatest.

Q: What does the swine flu outbreak say about global health and preparedness?

A: It’s a great example of a global health issue that could have an enormous impact on all of our lives. Look at HIV/AIDS. It went from an almost unheard-of disease to a global pandemic affecting almost 30 million people.

Q: What can people here do to help solve global health problems?

A: They can volunteer at free clinics or homeless shelters or join organizations such as UNICEF or Care International. They can donate to philanthropic foundations. They can elect officials who understand our connections to the rest of the world.

— Interview by David Wahlberg

Read more about Dr. Haq on the Badgers Abroad Blog.