Summary of talk:
Latin America is a region that is increasingly linked to global problems and solutions to those problems in global health. China has renewed connections with countries in Latin America, and suddenly there are now more than 65 centers devoted to Latin American studies in Chinese universities, whereas only a few years ago there were less than five. Researchers and scholars often see low and middle-income countries in places like Latin America as laboratories for carrying out research on emerging pathogens, natural disasters, and epidemiological transitions, but Latin America is also a place where solutions to global health challenges can be found. In this discussion, I will give an overview of nine global health solutions that have arisen from the creativity and commitment of people in Latin America. These are 1) Indigenous/Western plural medicine, 2) Well-being and indigenous concepts of health, 3) Reducing maternal/infant mortality through birth centers, 4) Reversing nutritional transitions 5) Participatory Action Research, 6) Reduction of gang violence, 7) Improving access to health care, 8) Innovative global health education in Cuba, and 9) Ways of sustaining global health partnerships.
I emphasize nine solutions because of a knowledge system found among Maya people today, the number “nine” signifies importance. What can we learn from this? The incorporation of indigenous systems of knowledge into global health is a way us in global health to engage with people in Latin America and it is also a way to bring innovation to global health theory and practice.
Dr. Allan Burns is an Adjunct Professor at DKU and Duke University and Professor Emeritus of the University of Florida. He is applied anthropologist who has carried out research on in Mayan communities of Central America, among American Indian tribes, and with Pacific Islanders. He has collaborated with medical researchers on health disparity research among glaucoma patients, stroke patients, immigrants from Mexico and Central America. He has a long-standing interest and research in tobacco use initiation and community based participatory research. He has served on technical committees of the International Organization of Migration, the Pan American Health Organization on indigenous people and infectious diseases, and as a consultant to several Latin American Universities on the implementation of intercultural education. He has led international trips and research projects for students of anthropology, medicine, dentistry, public health, and pharmacy. His research with Maya people of Mexico, Guatemala, and Central America has resulted in several books, two documentary videos, and many publications. He speaks Mayan and Spanish and has been recognized by Maya communities for his research and advocacy of indigenous knowledge.