Master's Program in Global Public Health
Master in Public Health, May 2011
Alexandre Carvalho is pursuing his MPH at NYU's Master's Program in Global Public Health, where he is acquiring the tools needed to effect major change in health efforts throughout the developing world.
Alexandre has, since his youth, been deeply inspired by his parents to adopt a "Glocal" (Think Global-Act Local) philosophy. His mother works as Chief of the Montreal Protocol unit in the United Nations Development Programme, and his father is a Federal University professor in Rio de Janeiro working with Social-Environmental Entrepreneurship projects. Alexandre wanted to follow his parents and take a civic-minded path, but one reflective of his own strengths and interests: consequently he chose to be a physician and entered the Medical School of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in 2002, after a national - and very competitive - selection process.
During his years in medical school, Alexandre participated in an array of extracurricular activities and studies such as writing for the student newspaper, performing with the scenic arts group "Semnome Para Fazer Rir," and making incursions into favelas to help deliver care to those who were unable to leave their homes due to their infirmities. During these life-enriching experiences, he noticed that the status of health was a product of many different determinants, including, but not limited to, economic, political, environmental, educational, and biological. This notion was evident during domiciliary visits in the slums of Rio de Janeiro and in the rural community of Ponte das Laranjeiras - Piraí. In both places, Alexandre observed uneducated, low-income patients living under conditions that inevitably led to (preventable) diseases.
Alexandre noted the futility of treating individual patients with medical therapy, only to have them return afterwards to the same "illness-nesting" environment, based on an observation of the pattern of morbidity and mortality in those communities. As a result, public health soared on his mind as a more effective tactic to attack disease at its roots.
During his Community and Family Health Internship in Piraí - Rio de Janeiro, Alexandre devised his most recent health promotion/disease prevention project, called Lights, Camera and… Health in Action! Lights, Camera, and...Health in Action! aims to challenge the traditional and apparently ineffective approach of mainstream health education, which is based on lectures to disease groups. The project is founded on profound community-involvement and multidisciplinary values, and its goal is to empower a group of locals to not only diffuse health information among their neighbors as lay references, but also to master the skills needed to write a script, shoot, act, edit, direct, and distribute the community-made films. Recently, Alexandre is also involved with designing a model to tackle the three phases or waves of morbidity and mortality present in the wake of natural or human made disasters: the immediate disruption, the medium-term public health crisis, and the long-term economic breakdown of families and communities affected by the tragedy.