New Club Spotlight: Harriton Public Health Society

Adjoa Mante

Haiti is currently experiencing an outbreak of cholera that has resulted in 280 deaths.  Although the spread of the disease has slowed, it still poses a large threat to the country and possibly the international community. Just last year the H1N1 pandemic struck fear in the hearts of millions.  These diseases are just two of the examples of the many epidemics that have recently swept through our planet. Despite human advancements, like instant communication via the Internet and the development of vaccinations, these examples and many more make it clear that humans are still susceptible to devastating diseases. From the Black Plague, to Spanish Influenza, to the polio epidemic and most recently H1N1, diseases seem to be a force that humankind has never been able to (and never will) defeat. So what can be done? As with most problems, ignorance prolongs and increases the prevalence of such widespread diseases. So how can the planet be made aware and begin to make changes?

Here at Harriton, the Harriton Public Health Society (a new club as of this year) is taking small steps to achieve this goal of global awareness and prevention of outbreaks of disease. The Public Health Society’s objective is to target public ignorance of diseases and raise money to fight against diseases. According to the club’s co-president, Greg Kurtzman, he originally came up with the idea after participating in an epidemiology-related event for Science Olympiad. The club’s other president, Andrew Li, “quickly jumped on board with the idea because of a passion he has for raising money to help those less fortunate than himself.” To combat epidemics throughout the world, the Harriton Public Health Society holds fundraisers to help raise money for various diseases. In an average month, the society has one meeting during RAM and afterschool in Mrs. Demaray’s room, when a presentation is given on a particular disease, and the fundraiser that will take place is described. After learning about the given disease during the week, the group takes action by raising money for various organizations that help ameliorate the condition of those suffering from the disease mentioned. This week, from October 21st to the 29th, the group has been running a raffle to raise money to buy bed nets to help repel mosquitoes in Africa. These nets will repel the mosquitoes that carry the parasite that causes malaria, a disease that kills one million people each year. The members of the Harriton Public Health Society, who have been sitting outside the cafeteria raising money for the raffle, have already raised about a hundred dollars. Members of the club also receive Harriton Service League credit for participating in fundraisers held by the Public Health Society. The current members of the group were recruited during RAM day, however anyone who would like to join the Harriton Public Health Society can do so by contacting any of the officers (Gregory Kurtzman, Andrew Li, or Jesi Kim), talking to the staff advisor of the group, Mrs. Demaray, or signing up for one of the RAM Periods designated for the Harriton Public Health Society.

Although the Harriton Public Health Society is just getting started and its goal of fighting worldwide diseases is a large one, with the steps it is taking, the club will have a beneficial impact on our community and the globe.