MattersduMonde has been around for a whole year! With at least one post per week, it’s been an adventure into my own global health reading, writing and the wider blogosphere. Although the blog was originally motivated by a solipsistic need to textually spell out, and consider the aspects of global health that I find most troubling or intriguing, over the past year MdM has gathered a loyal but modest following that extends beyond my own project. Nothing is more self-affirming than finding others who also want to engage with the people, places and conditions that comprise ‘global health’. As well as introducing regular roll-over features, namely ‘Photographer’ and ‘Book of the Month’, some of the personal highlights on the blog this year have been contributions to the ‘Writing Health‘ section, which also became the subject of my TEDx talk. So it seemed as good a time as any to dig through the archives and revisit the top five most popular pieces on the blog since it started, as marked by you – in your numbers and words.
This piece was a variation on the monthly photography feature, and was particularly popular in that the photojournalist in focus, Sa’adia Khan, was running an exhibition of material commissioned by MSF at Asia House in London at the time of publication. In the blog, as in person, Khan talks through a narrative of this commission, which becomes about much more than getting the perfect shot, and touches upon the struggles to fairly expose the unwritten, hidden and untold lives and experiences of the most oppressed persons around the globe.
To omit this feature from a line-up of highlights from the past year would be falsely self-deprecating. It details how the ‘Writing Health’ section of this blog piqued the interest of TEDxUCL organisers who were seeking speakers on the theme of ‘Growth’, including personal growth. The first tentative proposal meeting found me discussing personal experiences I though had been more than fully explored and discussed in other guises and spaces, perhaps as a direct consequence of a blogging process that found me revisiting health experiences close to home. The premise of TED talks is that speakers have ‘ideas worth sharing’. Perhaps, if there is anything that this process highlighted, it is that unexpected opportunities often call on you to move and speak in ways you never knew needed, or warranted, expression.
This was the first in a series of commissioned features for the ‘Writing Health’ section in which the intuitive and brilliant Charlotte Chorley uses spoken word to consider the black hole and contradictions of existent policy around and relays received experience of female genital mutilation across the UK. With her own interests including health, development and policy, Chorley’s creative writing is worth exploring. Clichéd, perhaps, but she is one to watch – and it looks like you all agree.
I developed MdM during my lunch breaks of a summer internship with Roll Back Malaria at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva. At the time, I’d recently graduated from Cambridge, had no job definitively lined after the internship which found me communicating around Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD), a long-held area of interest. I’d also been Press Officer for Polygeia, a student-run global health policy think-tank, so when, mid-way through my internship I decided to start writing about developmental topics of interest, and with no finite plans, I looked into a friend’s recommendation that I pursue a Masters in Global Health and Development. I’m fortunate that I was able to apply and consider my place, starting at UCL the same week I flew back from Switzerland. The finite deciding factor in continuing in education at the time was the prospect of conducting primary data collection for my Masters dissertation. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, this found me researching leprosy, and the mental health of persons with this NTD alongside Lepra, an organisation with whom I had previously volunteered on a policy commission. This blog offers a snapshot of my first days in Bangladesh, where I spent a month collecting data earlier this year.
For someone who has always experienced an unhealthy level of imposter syndrome, it is surprising that curating a blog has positioned me to narrate the stories of others. Conferences and press events have become a rich source of connections and potential interviewees, with the blog network lively in it’s own right, evidenced in invitations to guest blog for Global Health NOW (article available here) and to speak at the November conference of Medicine Unboxed. In this interview, Dan shares his own experiences of making connections across languages, and marrying seeming impasses in the conflict zone of Darfur. His professional capacity as a lecturer in public health lends a fascinating research steer to his reflections.
Want more of the same? Areas you would like covered? People interviewed? With feedback here’s hoping the next year on MdM doesn’t just become a personal indulgence and can contribute to the wider global health conversation.
Image Credit: A. Bow-Bertrand