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‘Catching’ the global health bug

Amy Becker LaFrance with a young girl in Burkina Faso. Photo courtesy of Advances Magazine.

For MPH alum Amy Becker LaFrance, this contagion is a good thing.

By Amy Becker LaFrance


The police officer at the Ouagadougou International Airport visa counter was reviewing my application last February and asked in French, “Madame, what is your profession?”

“Public health,” I replied. She cocked an eyebrow and said, “That is not a profession.” Her disdain was clear even though French is my second language. I tried again, saying I was the country director for a U.K.-based nongovernmental organization called Development Media International that is conducting a mass media-based child survival project in Burkina Faso. Finally, she let me enter the country.

Even in my native English, this work can take some explaining.

My path to Burkina Faso started with my MPH degree. I studied and wrote about infectious diseases. This helped me to appreciate how all health is interconnected, especially today. A downside of affordable plane travel, imported foods, and trendy household pets is that germs from anywhere in the world can affect us more easily now than ever. “Global health” might sound exotic, but it is a part of everyday life, no matter where we live.

Continue reading in Advances Magazine.

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