Category: - PHR: Physicians for Human Rights, UTHSCSA Chapter
 
AUTHOR: Neelima Navuluri
2011 Conference Attendees from UTHSCSA: Troy Russell, Alisha Jiwani, Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Neelima Navuluri, Shweta Murthi, Sheeja Thomas
2011 PHR National Conference Attendees from UTHSCSA.
Left to Right: Troy Russell, Alisha Jiwani, Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Neelima Navuluri, Shweta Murthi, Sheeja Thomas
“A doctor’s duty is to cure occasionally, relieve frequently, and comfort always” quoted Dr. Gloria White Hammond, founder of My Sister’s Keeper and one of many inspiring and thought-provoking speakers UTHSCSA Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) members heard at the PHR National Conference hosted by Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts this past weekend. The conference, entitled “Our Role, Our Responsibility: Defending Health and Human and Rights,” featured notable speakers from a variety of disciplines including keynote speaker Dr. Howard Zucker, an MD/JD and former Assistant Director General of the World Health Organization among many others titles, who spoke about taking serendipitous opportunities to be an agent of change in patient care and health policy.

The conference included breakout sessions that dealt with health professionals as clinicians, researchers, and advocates, featuring physicians and lawyers with unique interests, varying organizational involvement, and work experiences throughout the world. MS3 Swetha Murthi introduced and helped moderate a session on documentation of asylum seeking claims and torture survivors, while other UTHSCSA students received advice on how to carry out human rights work throughout medical school, residency and fellowship training. Students also attended sessions on violence against women in Sudan and Chad and learned about improving communication and public relations skills.

A special highlight of the conference was a poster session named in honor of Sujal Parikh, a PHR Student Advisory Board member who tragically passed away in October in a traffic accident in Uganda. The Sujal Parikh Memorial Education Expo allowed the various PHR student chapters to share projects and research they were working on with one another, stimulating conversation about what new or innovative ideas could be applied at home institutions. UTHSCSA students were among these students showcasing the amazing work they have been doing. Swetha Murthi and Sheeja Thomas presented their development of the Wurzbach Manor Project, the soon-to-open student run free clinic for local refugees. Alisha Jiwani presented the Health and Human Rights Elective she designed and implemented for the first time this semester as a result of last year’s conference. Finally, Troy Russell presented a recipe for human rights violations which exist throughout southern Texas in the form of colonias.

Here are the posters that UTHSCSA PHR Chapter members presented:
Overall the national conference provided a unique opportunity to interact with other students from thirty-six universities around the nation who are passionate about human rights issues. It also allowed us to learn what it means to be a human rights advocate personally and professionally from experts in everything from human rights law to advocacy work to research. The conference served as a gauge of how far human rights, especially in terms of health care, has come, but more importantly as a reminder of how far there is left to go. We look forward to sharing the experiences and insights we gained, continuing to bring speakers to and implementing projects here at UTHSCSA.