One bucket at a time
The transformative impact of global health
Editor’s Note: Since this story was published in 2006, the Lwala clinic has opened; Milton Ochieng’ earned his medical degree and is now enrolled in the internal medicine residency program at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis; Steven Gabbe, M.D., is now senior vice president for Health Sciences and CEO of the Medical Center at Ohio State University; and Peter Wright, M.D., gave up his leadership roles and is splitting his faculty time between Vanderbilt and Dartmouth College.
“They sold goats, cows, whatever they could to send me to America,” recalls Ochieng’, who this spring completed his second year at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Since he arrived at Vanderbilt, Ochieng’ has stirred considerable interest in his project among students and faculty across campus. This summer, three Vanderbilt students plan to work on various research projects in Lwala.
The office of medical school Dean Steven Gabbe, M.D., and the school’s new Institute for Global Health are supporting his venture, as is the Vanderbilt Office of Active Citizenship and Service, which organizes service projects for undergraduates.
Ochieng’ also has attracted the attention of Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs, Ph.D., former director of the United Nations Millennium Project to eliminate “grinding poverty, hunger and disease.”
“Spend your summers in the Vanderbilt ‘Millennium Village,’” Sachs urged students attending a recent videoconference on the Vanderbilt campus. “This is your generation’s challenge. If you want to end this kind of suffering and poverty, you need to take the lead in this.”
The story of Milton Ochieng’ illustrates how global health is transforming the next generation of doctors, scientists and citizens in the United States.
“Lwala has captured our imagination because here is a Vanderbilt student who’s creating this in his own home village,” says Sten Vermund, M.D., Ph.D., founding director of the Institute for Global Health. “That’s not done every day ... For the university community to come together in support of this is kind of exciting.