Comfort Women?

Every Wednesday in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, people gather around to demand the Japanese government formally apologize for their forced sexual slavery system during World War II. Even though it has been over 20 years of Koreans raising this issue, the Japanese government has only tried to offer monetary compensation, and has not issued an official apology. The Asian Women’s Fund estimates the number of victims ranges from 50,000 to a quarter million, but the number has remained vague due to incomplete data archives and stigma among victims after the war (1). A few survivors of this sexual slavery system have spoken in front of global leaders to raise awareness: one of them, Hak-sun Kim, delivered her first testimony in 1991. During this testimony, Kim said that when she was seventeen, she was forcibly sent to the Japanese military’s comfort station (a sexual slavery station) in China (2). She resisted, but soldiers threatened and kicked her to be...
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Student Advisory Board Update

The Student Advisory Board aims to increase engagement with the Center by fostering academic collaboration and advocacy efforts. Now in its third year, the SAB has grown to encompass undergraduates and graduate students across Duke. Over the past few years, student work has been featured on the Center's website as well as newsletters. Students have also helped bring in multiple speakers from various backgrounds, including researchers and SRH advocacy organizations. This year, the Student Advisory Board consists of the Communications Working Group and the Events Working Group. I'm pleased to be working with Angela and Lauren as they are leading both of these groups and are planning incredible ways for students to get more involved with the Center. Hear more about the work they are doing below. From Angela Huang, the Communications Working Group Chair: The Student Advisory Board Communications Committee, made up of both undergraduate and post-graduate students, sets out to form connections between the Duke student populace with the Center for...
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Director’s Blog October 2021

Director’s Blog October 2021

In my last blog, written as we were celebrating graduation and Covid numbers were falling, I challenged readers to think about lessons from the pandemic and plan for a new and improved post-pandemic world. In retrospect, that optimism was clearly a little premature. As the Delta variant swept through the country, it not only changed the timeline on any return to “normalcy,” it changed expectations that there would be a post-Covid world. The challenge became learning to live and thrive in a world with Covid. As classes are in full swing, and we’ve already passed the halfway mark for the semester, Duke students, staff and faculty have readily embraced the measures that allow us to teach and learn in person: masks, vaccinations and testing. Midterms are over, basketball is coming back to Cameron in a way that keeps everyone safe and crazy, and we are seeing more in person events that bring people together. One event that brought together large numbers...
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How did COVID-19 influence telehealth abortion?

COVID-19 impacted our lives a lot. Working from home became common sense, losing a dear family member and making hospital appointments became incredibly difficult. In Sexual Reproductive Health, Marie Stopes International (MSI) expected that up to 9.5 million females would lose access to contraception and safe abortion services due to COVID. It could lead to 2.7 million unsafe abortions and more than 10,000 pregnancy-related deaths [1]. Inspired by the guest lecture of Kelly Hunter, a DGHI Doctoral Scholar and PhD candidate in Political Science, about her research on the impact of the Global Gag Rule and COVID-19 on women’s sexual and reproductive health in Kenya [2], I want to look at how COVID-19 and development of telemedicine impacted sexual and reproductive health in high-income countries, such as the United States and Great Britain. By its WHO definition, telemedicine utilises internet and communication technology (ICT) in healthcare practice [3]. A wide array of information collected through various technologies helps decrease the cost...
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Note from Lauren Mitchell, Director of the Working Group for Sexual and Reproductive Health

During the Spring 2021 semester, the Working Group for Sexual and Reproductive Health grew its community of over 115 students, researchers, and advocates working across the SRH field through programming events, the Mentorship Program, and email newsletters. After being founded in the fall of 2019 by Saumya Sao, a Duke 2020 graduate, its goals of building a collaborative community, fostering relationships, and eliminating barriers to entry into SRH research for students were temporarily put on hold due to COVID-19. However, on March 19, the Working Group hosted 13 speakers at a virtual SRH Research Symposium, highlighting the work being done in the Triangle area and connecting students to potential opportunities for engagement. Speakers presented their current research across four themed areas—Digital Health and Data Science, Mental Health, Family Planning, and Innovations in HIV Care—and shared insight on how students can engage with the SRH field, both at Duke and beyond. Additionally, the SRH Advocacy Panel event on April 16 featured...
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Reflection on Contraceptive Product Development and Introduction Panel

During one of Duke’s wellness days, Kate Rademacher and Rebecca Callahan from FHI 360 presented the work being done at FHI 360 related to contraceptive development and accessibility/ acceptability in low- to middle- income countries (LMIC). As a part of FHI 360’s Contraceptive Technology Innovation Team and a public health scientist, Rebecca Callahan researches new contraceptive methods and product availability; As a technical director for the LEAP Initiative for FHI 360, Kate Rademacher supports the development of long-active contraceptives for low resources settings. At the start of the panel, Dr. Callahan introduced the research being done in FHI 360, exploring different forms of existing contraceptives and how they differ in use world-wide. Notably, she focuses on contraceptive usage in LMIC and discusses how for contraceptives to be properly received by these populations, they must have qualities like “safe and effective”, “discreet”, “low cost”, etc. Because contraceptive development is not as profitable for larger pharmaceutical companies, FHI 360 engages research for the...
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Student Spotlight: Ema Kuczura and Sarah Hubner

Student Spotlight: Ema Kuczura and Sarah Hubner

As we just finished the end of the spring semester, we wanted to highlight the work of two of our talented students: Ema Kuczura and Sarah Hubner. Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.  Ema: I am originally from Chicago, IL. I recently graduated Duke where I majored in Public Policy and Global Health. I am a member of the Duke Women's Rowing team where I am finishing up my last season. While at Duke, I also participated in the Rubenstein-Bing Athlete Civic Engagement program, served as Co-President of the One Love student club, and served on the executive board of Duke SHAPE (Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention and Education). Sarah: I am originally from Long Island, New York. I studied Political Science with a concentration in Security Peace, and Conflict and Global Health, and pursued a Markets and Management Studies Certificate. I have long been interested in the intersection of US foreign policy and economic development on health outcomes among marginalized populations...
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Economic Sanctions and Maternal Mortality

Economic Sanctions and Maternal Mortality

As this academic year comes to a close, so does my two-year tenure as the Duke Global Health Institute Doctoral Scholar working with the Center for Global Reproductive Health. I have been so fortunate to be mentored by Dr. Huchko and the staff both here in Durham and in Kisumu. A true highlight has been collaborating with community partners as well as undergrads and grad students here at Duke. Pei-Yu Wei, another PhD student and I started a project investigating the impact of economic sanctions on women’s rights and maternal mortality, which we recently had the opportunity to present at a national conference and two academic workshops. Economic sanctions are policy instruments used to influence the behavior of another international actor. While generally a less harmful method for countries to settle disputes compared to military force, sanctions still have the ability to adversely affect the civilian population in the targeted state. Much research has been done on the negative consequences of...
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Director’s Blog May 2021

Director’s Blog May 2021

Amid the familiar bursts of color and warm breezes that call us back outdoors for another glorious North Carolina spring, there are signs of a return to a pre-pandemic way of life. In light of increasing vaccinations and decreasing case numbers, Governor Cooper lifted the mask mandate at the beginning of May, with a plan to end most of the Covid-related restrictions in June. Duke was able to hold an in-person graduation, and is committed to having all students back on campus in the fall. So, while there is still a long road ahead of us, it’s reassuring to see some tangible plans for a return to normalcy. As we start to recover from the pandemic, this quarter’s newsletter focuses on what true healing looks like. Although everyone’s experience was unique, the pandemic undoubtedly brought some loss to all of us, whether in the form of isolation, missed opportunities, or, for too many of us, the loss of family or loved...
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How male reproductive health is impacted by location

In recent research conducted by researchers at the University of Nottingham, evidence has been found that suggests that the places where men live have the ability to affect their reproductive health. The study was conducted using dogs as a sentinel species, based upon their common proximity to humans and popularity as pets. The study analyzed the testes of dogs, searching for and evaluating levels of pathologies and irregularities present. Anthropogenic chemicals, those derived from environmental pollutants, have been hypothesized to be associated with an increased risk and prevalence of testicular cancer as well as with declines in semen quality in male reproductive health. Samples for this study were taken from different regions throughout the United Kingdom, [from the West Midlands, East Midlands and South East] as well as from Denmark and Finland for comparison. It was discovered that the samples from the different locations demonstrated varying levels of pathologies, indicating that certain populations were more at risk for experiencing negative effects...
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