Who We Are

Wonderful full story of an HIV, TB Patient/Hero Joseph Jeune

If you’ve ever seen a presentation by the UBC student group, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, or any by, Dr. Kishor Wasan or any NGDI member, you’ll probably recognize the picture of Joseph Jeune below. His is a story of “Lazarus rising” from the ashes through the treatment of his HIV/AIDS in Haiti. When I first started as Coordinator of NGDI in 2010, I wondered about this man, about the unbelievable transition from decimation to health – it seemed miraculous.

Joseph Jeune

Today, I read a wonderful story on the Partners in Health blog, “Remembering Ti Joseph: Patient, Friend, and HIV Advocate”.  He sadly did pass away in January of last year, but truly, “his life was not in vain”.

Here are some snippets from the post, but I recommend reading the whole story.

Remembering Ti Joseph: Patient, Friend, and HIV Advocate

“Joseph Jeune used to carry a folded pamphlet from the World Health Organization in his back pocket. It described the international body’s “3 by 5 Initiative,” dedicated to getting 3 million people on antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV by 2005. On the left was a picture of a wide-eyed, emaciated patient who teetered on the brink of death. On the right was the same man, this time smiling, 30 pounds heavier, and proudly balancing his niece on a sturdy hip. The transformation was breathtaking.  

“‘That was me!’” Jeune would say while pointing to the pictures, according to a doctor who knew him well. “‘Look how sick I was!’” And whenever someone brought up the same poster in conversation with him, he proudly and playfully boasted, “‘Yeah, I’m a star.’”

Jeune was a star to his family and friends, and particularly to his doctors working in clinics supported by Zanmi Lasante, as Partners In Health is known in Haiti. The illiterate peasant farmer and shoe shiner turned community health educator was an iconic symbol of the power of ART and the importance of delivering it to patients all over the world—regardless of income or social status. His recovery, and resulting fame in the global health world, earned him a platform from which he advocated for the compassionate care of poor people living with HIV and tuberculosis.

The treatment Jeune received brought him another 13 years of life. Many would say that was too little time for such a grand personality. Ti Joseph, or “Little Joseph” as he was affectionately called by the PIH doctors who loved and cared for him, died on January 21, 2015, at 37.”

“By September, Jeune had returned to his home and gained 45 pounds. His TB was cured. And he religiously took his ART. He was doing so well that he started taking classes in community health education at the Lascahobas clinic. PIH offered him a job and he soon became a jack-of-all trades there.

“He was an extrovert in the truest sense of the word,” says Walton, who became a close friend and took pictures of Jeune—with his permission—throughout his treatment. “In a time of significant stigma, he was always very open about his disease.”

So when Farmer approached Jeune about sharing his before-and-after pictures with the World Health Organization, where fellow PIH Co-founder Dr. Jim Yong Kim was working at the time, Jeune jumped at the chance.

“‘Show my pictures. Tell my story. I want people to be able to have the same opportunity for treatment that I did,’” Walton remembers Jeune saying. “He was a really fiery advocate about health equity, particularly around HIV.””


Protecting Health Workers from Infectious Disease Transmission

Access article: Protecting health workers from infectious disease transmission: an exploration of a Canadian-South African partnership of partnerships.

A new article by NGDI members, Drs. Annalee Yassi, Jerry Spiegel and Lyndsay O’Hara explores an almost ten year Canadian-South African partnership to provide health system strengthening expertise to enhance and develop occupational health and infection control. The article outlines the type of partnership model and why it was effective; the contributions to the success that were achieved and what lessons could be drawn for others seeking effective partnership models.

They stress that peer-to-peer North-South partnerships, which have been used very successfully to promote clinical skill development of health care workers, should also be considered for improving work environments as well. The model they utilized was a North-South-South “community of practice” between two World Health Organization Collaborating Centres for Occupational Health (one here at UBC, run by Drs. Yassi and Spiegel) and one in South Africa. The other ‘south’ partner is a same country less-resourced partner (a rural hospital, in this case). This led to a more peer-to-peer experience (hence the community of practice) but for both the main Canadian and South African centres. They found this helped to successful translate good infection control practices and helped to direct policy on a provincial and national level to sustain the changes.

A group of young volunteers wears special uniform and wash their hands with chlorinated water ahead of sterilizing the bodies of people, died due to the Ebola virus, in Kenema, Sierra Leone on August 24, 2014. People work for 6 dollars per a day in burial and sterilizing works in Kenema where the infection of the virus is mostly seen. (Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A group of young volunteers wears special uniform and wash their hands with chlorinated water ahead of sterilizing the bodies of people, died due to the Ebola virus, in Kenema, Sierra Leone on August 24, 2014. People work for 6 dollars per a day in burial and sterilizing works in Kenema where the infection of the virus is mostly seen. (Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

It’s a good read and the article can be accessed online here in the latest Globalization and Health  journal.

The UBC Collaborating Centre’s work on infection control for health care workers in endemic countries during the Ebola crises was highlighted in the NGDI’s Ebola Symposium for Treatment and Action. This can still be access here with the Centre’s work highlighted between 2:48 – 2:54 hours in the recording.



UBC Tropical and Geographic Medicine, Intensive Short Course

The main purpose of the course is to offer a training opportunity for health professionals to learn an approach to preventing, diagnosing, evaluating, treating and managing people with tropical diseases. This course is the first of its kind in Western Canada. Nearly 100 physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals have successfully completed this course.


Professors Nick Day and Phaik Yeong Cheah of the University of Oxford will join the 2017 course faculty. Please see details in the course brochure

Course objectives

Through didactic lectures, interactive problem-solving discussions and practical laboratory teaching, attendees will learn:

  • a clinical approach to the evaluation and management of tropical diseases;
  • practical laboratory skills, with a focus on the identification of parasites important for the diagnosis of tropical disease;
  • public health principles and applications including outbreak management.

The course emphasizes three broad areas: (1) Clinical Tropical Medicine; (2) Parasitology; (3) Public Health. Participants will gain knowledge and skills in:

Clinical Tropical Medicine

  • Understanding of epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical presentation, complications of major tropical diseases;
  • A clinical approach to evaluating patients presenting with diseases acquired in the tropics;
  • Skills in the diagnosis and treatment of important tropical diseases.
  • Emphasis will be placed on communicable tropical diseases with large global burden of disease.


  • Understanding of the lifecycles of clinically important parasites with respect to transmission and control;
  • Understanding of the development of parasites within the human body and the corresponding clinical symptoms and pathology;
  • Microscopy skills to diagnose various blood and gastrointestinal parasites.

Public Health 

  • Understanding of tools for health assessment and surveillance in the developing world;
  • Understand the importance of identifying and working with stakeholders and governments overseas;
  • Review an approach to outbreak investigation;
  • General approach to preventing and controlling infections within a community using modalities such as immunization and environmental health intervention;
  • Practice in application of community infection control through problem solving exercises.

Date: May 1-5, 2017

Location: Vancouver Campus, TBD

Registration Required: Course fee discount until April 1, 2016.

Details: Tropical & Geographic Medicine Intensive Short Course

Kish Wasan Wins Global Health Award from AAPS

2015.11.13 Wasan AAPS awardNGDI’s former Director, Dr. Kishor Wasan is now the Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan.  Dean Wasan was presented with a Global Health Achievement award from the Members of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Global Health Focus Group for their work on supporting, educating and training young scientists as global health professionals.  Kish reported that the work for this award was accomplished mainly during his time at UBC.

Congrats Kish!


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