July 18, 2016 Edition

A Note from the Provost

In the past year, we’ve demonstrated exceptional capabilities and a strong desire to contribute at the top level. Our faculty has enriched and shaped our society through innovation, research, and the drive to create student leaders. And this year will be no different. Our initiatives will focus on: 

  • implementing our strategic action plan,
  • engaging campus in preparations for institutional accreditation by WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), and,
  • ramping up fundraising to support student scholarships and our student emergency fund. 

These are initiatives that will transform our university and allow us to deliver exceptional research, education, and engagement. 

I want to express my appreciation to all our faculty and staff for their contributions in making Touro University California an exceptional leader in health and education. Welcome to the 2016-2017 academic year!

Dr. Marilyn Hopkins
Provost and Chief Operating Officer
Touro University California

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

By: Carinne Brody, DrPH
Assistant Professor, Global Health
Public Health Program, CEHS

In a dimly lit massage parlor decorated with heavy velvet curtains, the front desk manager pulls back that largest dark red curtain to reveal a small room where eight young women sat on numbered footstools. The young women look up at us silently.   

“Clients just pick which number they prefer,” he told me.  “It is $10 for a massage and $25 for a special massage.”

I was standing in one of the many venues where you can pay for sex in Cambodia.  Because of a law passed in 2008, women and men can no longer sell sex in brothels and instead sell sex in massage parlors, karaoke bars, and dance clubs.  The intention of the 2008 “brothel ban” was to reduce sex work and eliminate HIV in the country.  However, the Cambodians with whom I spoke are concerned that the opposite is happening.  

Before the ban, many women were able to live and work in the relatively safe environment of the brothel where bouncers could help enforce mandatory condom use policies and step in if a client became violent. They were also able to receive health services such as HIV tests and condoms at their place of work.  

Today, health care providers and outreach staff have a harder time finding women who sell their bodies.  Women also have a harder time negotiating condom use and feeling safe when they are selling sex on the street or participating in an informal entertainment venue.  

My work with KHANA, the largest national HIV organization in Cambodia, has granted me access to information about the practices of sex workers and their clients.  KHANA provides numerous services to high-risk individuals, such as point of care finger prick testing, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education, and vocational training as a way to open the door for new opportunities. We have been working to analyze and report primary data collected from these populations with the hopes that it will help us build better services.  

On my way to the airport on this last trip, I asked my tuk tuk driver to take me down Street 2004, a long stretch of land where more than 50 tiny KTV, or karaoke bars, line the edges of the road.  

It was a Friday night and the red street lights were bright.  The images that whizzed passed me still bounce around in my head.  Each KTV has chairs lined up outside with an aisle down the middle.  Men ride up on motorbikes, where they are asked by the manager to select a woman.  Within moments, they disappear together in the back.  I can see young children and babies sit on the floor in the back while their mothers worked; the remaining women minded the children. 

Cambodia is a country that has survived enormous hardships.  The country has seen tremendous success in improving the health and well-being of its populace.  But there is a long way to go in achieving women’s equality, economic opportunities and access to quality healthcare.  

What can you do?

Give a loan to a small female-run business: https://www.kiva.org/lend?country=kh

Learn more about KHANA: http://www.khana.org.kh/

Support other good work in Cambodia: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/norm-schriever/6-charities-in-cambodia-s_b_5494855.html

Grace Landel (Joint MSPAS/MPH Program) awarded a HRSA $2.52 million grant

The Joint MSPAS/MPH Program has been awarded a Health Resource and Service Administration grant of $630,000 per year in scholarship funds - $2.52 million over the next 4 years (subject to the availability of funds).  The Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) program aims to increase the:

1)      number of graduates practicing in primary care,

2)      enrollment and retention of full-time students from disadvantaged backgrounds including students who are members of racial and ethnic minority groups, and

3)      number of graduates working in medically underserved communities (MUCs). 

The grant goals are in direct alignment with the mission of the Program.  Twenty-one students each year, 7 in each class, will receive $30,000.  Over the 4 years of the grant, 42 students will benefit from the grant: 14 students will receive 1 scholarship, 14 will receive 2 (1 per year) and 14 will have received scholarship funding for all 3 years.

Congratulations to Grace Landel (PI) and her team!