Associate Professor ofHealth science and nutritionGarumma Tolu Feyissais one of 30 new faculty members at Brooklyn College for fall 2023. Teaching in the School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences, Feyissa is well versed in her primary fields of health equity research, maternal health mothers and children, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, and passionate about scaling up evidence-based policy and practice in health and social care through evidence-based research and teaching proof. He also seeks to bridge the gap between research and policy/practice by responding to requests from policymakers and practitioners and by using methods that involve evaluation, Synthesis and translation of knowledge.
We asked Feyissa why he chose Brooklyn College and why maternal health is such an area of interest to him.
What brought you to Brooklyn College?
I joined Brooklyn College because of my passion for research, education, and commitment to making a positive impact in the community. It gives me a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment to guide and support students on their learning journey. Brooklyn is the ideal environment to implement high-quality education and mentoring strategies to support students’ career journeys.
I was also attracted to the diversity of the students, staff, and faculty. I appreciate the school’s efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. I believe that diversity enriches the educational experience and fosters an atmosphere of respect and understanding. Additionally, the school’s emphasis on partnerships and community service aligns with my desire to advance evidence-based policy and practice through community-based research and community engagement copper. The school is also located in a vibrant and culturally diverse district, providing unique opportunities for community engagement.
What got you interested in health equity issues?
Health equity is about reducing avoidable inequities and inequities in health outcomes and access to health care. I grew up in a rural developing country where most disease and death are caused by preventable causes and the distribution of services is inequitable. Everyone, regardless of background, deserves the same opportunity to enjoy a healthy life.
Imagine how you would feel being told that your wife is three times more likely to die in childbirth simply because she is black, or because she lives in a certain neighborhood, or because She comes from a low-income family. Imagine being told that your newborn baby is twice as likely to die in its first year as other babies simply because its mother is black. Therefore, my deep commitment to addressing disparities in health outcomes and access to health care services among diverse populations motivated me to investigate health outcomes from a health equity lens, where we explore the various social and structural determinants of health. This involves a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and solving health problems, and will provide opportunities to collaborate with experts from many disciplines. This creates a favorable situation for exploring the complex and multifaceted issues that contribute to health disparities. It will also provide important opportunities for innovation in health care delivery, policy development and intervention, and this is intellectually inspiring to me. Contributing to the knowledge base that improves the lives of underserved communities and individuals is professionally inspiring to me.
You are a maternal health researcher. What are the biggest problems you see in the field?
Overall, maternal health problems are diverse and rooted in social, physical, and policy environments. Magnitude may vary depending on settings. We can list the direct causes of maternal death as deaths due to cardiovascular disorders, deaths due to exacerbation of pre-existing medical conditions during pregnancy, and deaths related to other conditions. newly developed conditions such as bleeding and infection or due to stress-related factors such as drugs. abuse and mental health conditions. Although there are complex and diverse issues related to maternal health, most preventable problems are related to inequitable access to information and lack of comprehensive services and culturally appropriate. The bad news is that these deaths disproportionately affect underserved communities, but the good news is that most of them are preventable. Approaching problems from a social determinants perspective will be more impactful and effective than a disease-based approach.
What are some maternal health policies you would recommend implementing?
The most effective and efficient way to address maternal health issues is through a multifaceted approach, involving factors both inside and outside the health care system. Recent efforts focused on community engagement, promoting health equity, and approaching health issues holistically are having promising results. When I say approaching health issues holistically, I mean addressing not only the physical aspect of health but also promoting mental and social health. This is especially important because recent data shows that mental health problems, substance use, and suicide are increasing causes of maternal death. While physical problems remain important, the consequences of mental health problems are significant. These problems are not only serious but also affect future generations, families and society in general. And again, these mental health issues disproportionately affect underserved communities. While there are policies for each specific health issue, improving access to high-quality services that meet societal needs and establishing health care-oriented strategies appropriate to needs Community needs are some important tasks that we should all put our energies into. This highlights the need to address key issues from a health equity lens. This also requires continuous dialogue between policymakers, researchers and communities.
What do you think Brooklyn College students and faculty can contribute to maternal health issues and health care disparities in general?
As faculty, together with our students, we conduct research to better understand these health issues and how to translate evidence into policy and practice. We also engage and learn with our communities and work with them to design strategies to address health care disparities. Each side has a stake here. Nothing can succeed if one of the parties is deficient or fails to carry out its responsibilities to the required extent. So my message is to remind each member of our community, municipal, state and federal organizations, students, staff and faculty that their role is important and Nothing will be achieved with limited participation by any party. With full participation and commitment, we can bring about impactful change and build a healthy society.
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