Tag Archives: UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases

Sunday in Musanze

St. John the Baptist Cathedral

St. John the Baptist Cathedral

Today we are in Musanze (formerly known as Ruhengeri).

We went to the early service (in English) at St. John the Baptist Cathedral. The Anglican service of Morning Prayer was very familiar, and all the songs were ones we knew. There were some other Americans and other non-Rwandans there as well.

After a break, I went back for a portion of the main service, which is in Kinyarwandan, the national language here. I did not understand a single word ? but the vibrant, enthusiastic service was really inspiring.

I was struck by how many young people there were ? in both services, lots of young adults and children. And especially young adult men ? noticeably different from many American churches, that lack them.

En route to Rwanda

Greetings from Brussels ? our son, Will, and I are on our way to Rwanda for a long-planned visit.

This will be the fourth of our international visits together, in which we combine our interest in global health with an effort to learn more about the world ? especially those parts which are far away from Chapel Hill.

Will Roper in the Brussels Airport

Will Roper in the Brussels Airport

In 2007, Will and I went to South Africa, Malawi and Zambia. We focused especially on the UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Disease work that has long been done in Malawi. We learned a lot, and Will got to work in an AIDS orphanage.

In 2008, he and I went to China, where we again met with UNC collaborators, particularly in the China CDC. And we got to take in some of the Beijing Olympics!

In 2009, Will and I went to Peru, with Drs. Luis Diaz and Doug Morgan, and we saw first-hand the work that they and colleagues are doing to advance our understanding of health and disease. This has direct relevance to our efforts in Latino Health in North Carolina. And we got to see Machu Picchu too!

This year it's Rwanda ? a small country in east central Africa ? with a troubled past, but an exciting present and future. The 1994 genocide in Rwanda is a major part of the history of the country, and we will be visiting genocide memorials and learning of the horror of what happened 16 years ago.

But we will also be learning of the widespread reconciliation work that seems to be bearing much fruit, and the rapid development of the country and its economy.

UNC does not yet have global health work in Rwanda, but I will be visiting with leaders in the Ministry of Health, and in the hospitals and medical school. I look forward to learning much about what others are doing in Rwanda, and to thinking about the further opportunities.

In addition, our church in Chapel Hill has a partnership with the Anglican Church in Rwanda, and our sister parish is St. Paul's Cathedral in Butare, Rwanda. I will be visiting with church leaders there and elsewhere in Rwanda.

All in all, we have much to learn and experience. It promises to be a great trip!

Much more to come.

Greetings from Trujillo, Peru

Last evening we left RDU, and flew overnight to Lima, Peru, via Miami.

This is another in a series of trips I have taken in support of UNC's global health work. In 2007, I went to South Africa and Malawi. And in 2008, I took separate trips to Nicaragua and to China.

This year's trip is to Peru, with Dr. Luis Diaz, the chair of dermatology at UNC, who is from Trujillo, Peru, and with Dr. Doug Morgan, a UNC gastroenterologist, who has spent years researching GI cancers in Latin America.

Dr. Roper with students in Trujillo, Peru

Today we saw a bit of Lima, including a magnificent museum of Peruvian artifacts both pre-Columbian and post-Columbian. Several of the beautiful items we saw have been featured in an article in National Geographic.

Late this afternoon we flew to Trujillo, a city of about two million in the north of Peru. We were greeted at the airport by a very enthusiastic crowd of medical students, from UNT, the National University of Trujillo. Dr. Diaz has managed bi-directional exchanges of medical students and faculty from UNT and UNC for many years.

Tomorrow I am to meet with the dean of the UNT School of Medicine and see their teaching hospital. I am to give a talk on how we at UNC are preparing for influenza H1N1, which is a major topic of interest here. Doug Morgan is also giving a talk about his work in GI cancer.

As was the case in the trips in 2007 and 2008, my son Will Roper is with me. He is going to visit a rural health clinic tomorrow, and also will see several units at the teaching hospital.

This visit promises to be very worthwhile and surely memorable. It again highlights the value of UNC's focus on global health it enables us to do collaborative work that is valuable both to the citizens of other nations and to the people of North Carolina.