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For Release: March 7, 2013
Contact: Derik Hertel, 603-650-1211 or

Geisel School of Medicine Physicians for Human Rights Chapter Receives National Awards

Anna Huh '15, seen here volunteering in Peru, received an Emerging Leader Award from Physicians for Human Rights

Hanover, NH—The Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) chapter at Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine has been honored with two prestigious, national awards. The Geisel PHR chapter, under the leadership of students Anna Huh '15 and Afton Chavez '15, received the Physicians for Human Rights annual Best Chapter award, sharing this honor with the chapter at the St. Louis University School of Medicine. In addition, Anna Huh received the Emerging Leader Award from PHR, awarded annually to the PHR student member who shows the most promise to becoming an influential leader in the field of health and human rights. These awards highlight Geisel students' longtime commitment to leadership in advocating for the health of the underserved, both locally and globally.

"I was delighted to learn that our medical school chapter of Physicians for Human Rights was recognized with these two national awards," says Richard Simons, M.D., senior associate dean for medical education at Geisel. "This is a testimony of the dedication of our students to this cause and true spirit of the Dartmouth ethos that the world's troubles are our troubles. Anna and Afton are both delightful, highly motivated and industrious students who shine in and out of the classroom. We are fortunate to have such students at our medical school."

Physicians for Human Rights is an independent national organization that uses medicine and science to stop severe human rights violations against individuals around the world. It works with governments, the United Nations, and international courts to call for sanctions and interventions and works to shape U.S. policy priorities.

Over the years, PHR has had a strong presence at Geisel. It has received the Dartmouth College Martin Luther King, Jr., Social Justice Award for a Student Group, has sponsored a successful mentorship program at Geisel, and every year its members organize electives, lectures, and other events for the Geisel community. Geisel's PHR Chapter has also had consistent representation within PHR's national student leadership.

Currently, the Geisel chapter has about 70 active student members; including 27 from the first year class. In the past two years there has been a "tremendous growth in interest in PHR among Geisel students," says Huh.

One of the chapter's "most significant projects" says Huh was a three-day symposium tackling poverty in the Upper Valley community, titled "A Monstrous Octopus: The Tentacles of Poverty." Over 300 people attended—Geisel students, Tuck and Thayer graduate students, Dartmouth undergraduates, faculty and staff members, and many people from the Upper Valley community. "It was truly a collaborative effort," says Huh, "with everything achieved in the symposium done by the hands of students and faculty and supporters around campus."

Huh and the PHR chapter are also working with Jaime Bayona, director of global health programs at the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science (TDC) on a sustainable health-care project in Peru. The project's plan is to develop federal sites for establishing primary care health clinics in different impoverished regions of Peru—providing basic primary care services to all families in a community and linking those families to existing national health-care structures. The chapter is working closely with Bayona and others at TDC to create permanent partners at Dartmouth to keep the project sustainable for future Geisel students.

The Geisel PHR chapter also has two other projects well underway. One is with the Upper Valley Haven, a local non-profit that provides shelter and educational programming for the homeless. The students are studying the health needs of the people at the Haven and the health-care barriers they face. Their goal is to create an established health-care program for the Haven.

The other project focuses on prisoner health and prison medicine. Through the mentorship of Manish Mishra, M.D., a psychiatrist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center who counsels inmates at Sullivan and Grafton County jails, the students are setting up a program to learn more about the kinds of health-care problems and other barriers people face once they are released from prison. Once the students have learned about these issues, they plan to work with the prison staff to develop a health-care service that students would provide to people recently released. "We're setting the stones in place to create a path to a relationship that works between medical students and this other, largely hidden, underserved community," says Huh.

For Huh, the PHR awards give her and Geisel chapter members the impetus to keep their work and professional lives moving forward. "What these awards mean to me is a deep affirmation of this path I have chosen," says Huh. "Having had the opportunity to help lead the PHR this year has allowed me to find for myself truly how I would like to proceed in my career as a doctor in a way that preserves dignity in others and helps as much as possible the cause of rectifying the ills that society has created."

She adds: "This could never have been done without the wonderful medical student members of PHR as well as our pool of about 30 faculty mentors who are working every day to push human rights in their field."

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