Learn About the UN’s Sustainable Goals

The Brookings Institution in Washington DC is about to publish a new book that reviews the UN’s sustainable goals.  You can learn more about this book and listen to their podcast at the Brookings website.

Announcing the October 2018 Meeting

We are pleased to announce that  IHAN and the Institute for Women & Girls of the FORDHAM GRADUATE SCHOOL OF SOCIAL SERVICE  will jointly sponsor a Conference on  THE IMPACT OF VIOLENCE ON HEALTH and EDUCATION

When: Saturday, October 27th, 2018

Where: Fordham University 113 W. 60th St, NYC

More Details to follow: You can see the flyer for this conference here  Save the Date-Oct27, 2018


May 31, 2018 IHAN Participates in SDG Forum

On May 31st IHANs youth representative, Jourdan Williams, attended the 2018 Forum for Implementation of the SDGs which explored the innovative methods though which leaders in both the public and private sector are promoting the sustainable development goals in Japan. The forum was followed by a celebration of the World Day for Cultural Diversity entitled, Fashion Bridges Cultures: The international Common Language that is Fashion. Friends of the UN Asia Pacific (FOUNAP), World Federalist Movement Youth Forum (WFMYF) and the UN Office of Partnerships (UNOP) transformed the UN Delegates Dining Room into a runway for the evening and broadcast the advocacy event through Japanese media outlets. The catwalk featured looks inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals in addition to a guest appearance from the Children of Fukushima.
Ms. Williams was invited to design a set of banners for the event to highlight the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women & Peace & Security and the UN Programme of Action on the Culture of Peace advance the implementation of SDGs #5 and #16.
For additional information on sustainable development visit the Global Goals website.

March 12, 2018 IHAN sponsored CSW meetings in New York.

One Village at a time: Capacity Building, Education and the Right to Health 


Dr. Sorosh Roshan M.D. MPH[Founder and President IHAN] Welcome and Opening Remarks

Dr. Gabrielle Casper BSc(Hons) MBBS FRANZCOG [Sydney, Australia Gynaecologist with a special interest in women’s health and human rights including violence against women.]  Right to Health

Dr. Melody Behnam M.D. and Dr. Sulang Rosado M.D. [Obstetrician-gynecologists New Jersey] Women’s Health in Rural Settings

Honorable Judge Marcy Kahn [Associate Justice of the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court] Judicial Collaboration with Indigenous Populations

Dr. Lena Verdeli Ph.D  [Director of the Global Mental Health Lab and an associate professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University] Mental Health Capacity Building

Madam Zahara Nuru M.Sc. [Non-Executive Director of the Equity Bank of Tanzania] Experience in the Field

9:45 Q and A and Concluding Remarks led by Dr. Vijaya Melnick Ph.D. [Professor Emeritus of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of the District of Columbia]

Sponsor: International Health Awareness Network

Co-Sponsor: Fordham University, Graduate School of Social Service

Lehman College’s New Performing Arts Center

IHAN congratulates its partner Lehman College on the groundbreaking for its new Performing Arts Center.  IHAN’s youth representative attended the groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday, November 28.  Lehman is renovating and expanding its current facility. The 5,595 square foot expansion will feature a strategic layout that both optimizes energy efficiency and makes the not-for-profit center, which predates the Americans with Disabilities Act, fully accessible to all patrons. Lehman expects to complete the renovation in about 18 months. Bronx Borough President and Lehman alumnus, Ruben Diaz Jr., expressed his pride in Lehman’s commitment to supporting their community by facilitating access to both quality higher education and the fine arts.

IHAN has a long collaborative relationship with the College. Dr. Sorosh Roshan, IHAN’s President, received an honorary degree from Lehman College. For the past 13 years, she has served as a Director of the Lehman Foundation. Lehman College and IHAN have collaborated on several major activities. Highlights include:

  • In November 2017, Lehman College was an active participant and cosponsor with IHAN of a conference on The International Community’s Response to Challenges Facing Refugees and Forced Migrants;
  • In 2006, Lehman College joined with IHAN to sponsor and help organize a joint peace summit held in Hiroshima Japan in 2006;
  • A conference on the earth and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

Lehman and IHAN have also organized annual fundraising Galas for student scholarships.

Breaking the Cycle of Domestic Violence

On November 14th, IHAN’s youth representative attended the UN Department of Public Information’s NGO chat “Breaking the Cycle of Domestic Violence”. The event featured lecturers from a local NGO dedicated to the prevention and elimination of family and gender violence, Connect NYC. Sharene Roig and Marlon Walker, seasoned Violence Prevention Educators, led the audience in discussing underlying causes of and drafting definitions for various forms of domestic violence which included psychological, financial, technological and physical abuse. The conversation progressed to a detailed overview of community-based, culturally responsive survivor support services offered by Connect NYC. This was followed by a brief skill-building session on best practices to identify early warning signs and support victims. The importance of “meeting survivors where they’re at” and offering encouragement that is unencumbered by judgment was emphasized throughout Ms. Roig’s presentation. Mr. Walker highlighted the need to hold abusers accountable, yet support them throughout the rehabilitative process. Speakers agreed that although both men and women perpetrate domestic violence, tragically, fatalities are most common among pregnant women and women in the process of leaving their partners.


IHAN is pleased to congratulate Hon. Sybil Shainwald, a prominent attorney on receiving the award for Award for Leadership in Public Service from the New York Law School

Ms. Shainwald is a Trustee of the New York Law School and was a founding member of IHAN and the IHAN Advisory Board. She has “advanced deep commitment to social justice and women’s rights through her groundbreaking advocacy and litigation.” She has advanced the cause by “expanding the statute of limitations for latent injuries in New York” which enabled compensation for thousands of women whose mothers had taken DES during pregnancy” enabling a class action suit that established an emergency fund for DES daughters.

Sybil Shainwald has been in the forefront of the women’s health movement since its inception. Through groundbreaking and passionate advocacy, she has advanced a deeply personal commitment to social justice and women’s rights.

In addition to advocacy in the courtroom, her writings and testimony before the FDA and Congress have had a significant impact in raising the awareness of the national consciousness on women’s health issues.

Meetings at the International Peace Institute

The President of IHAN and several members participated in two policy forums co-hosted by the International Peace Institute and the Permanent Mission of Finland to the UN on November 6 and 7, 2017. The Institute “was founded by a group of individuals from both within and outside of the United Nations who believed that a thoroughly independent institution, free from official constraints, could make a unique contribution to multilateral efforts to prevent and settle armed conflicts around the world.” It plays a leading role in training peacekeepers for their duty.

 November 6, 2017

At the International Peace Institute’s [IPI] policy forum Peace by Pieces? Local Mediation Initiatives and Sustainable Peace in the Central African Republic (CAR), IPI Senior Fellow Marie-Joëlle Zahar and Policy Analyst Delphine Mechoulan summarized their research in CAR. A “strategic vision” for peacebuilding was presented in partnership with Asif Khan, Chief of the UN Mediation Support Unit. The panelists’ vision is rooted in a series of 6 policy recommendations drawn from IPI’s research and a conscious effort to better address the multidimensional nature of conflict within CAR. [ The full report can be seen at https://www.ipinst.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/1701_Peace-by-Pieces.pdf ]

Following IPI’s presentation, Dr. Roshan inquired about CAR’s capacity to address the unique needs of women & children in conflict zones. Ms. Zahar replied that although Doctors Without Borders is stationed within the refugee camps that host up to 25% of CAR’s population, there is a significant need for increased and sustained investment of human and financial capital to ensure the health of this community.

November 7, 2017

IPI’s recent Global Leader Series discussion explored how leveraging historical knowledge may foster inclusive societies and prevent future conflict. In his opening statement, Mr. Erkki Tuomioja, former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland and founder of the International Network of Historians without Borders, highlighted the crucial, yet often underreported, role women and minorities play in shaping history. Multiple examples were used to illustrate his position that while historians and their work should be used to maintain an accurate accounting of history, history should never be irresponsibly employed for judicial or political purposes.

During the panel discussion with Mr. Warren Hodge, IPI Senior Adviser for External Relations, Mr. Tuomioja spoke of his organization’s aspiration to facilitate the creation of common historical accounts. These accounts may contribute to sustainable peace in African and Baltic regions. Dr. Roshan will attend Mr. Tuomioja invited Dr. Roshan to attend a March conference in South Africa at which a common regional history for several former European colonies will be drafted.

Culture of Peace

IHAN is pleased to congratulate Amb. Anwarul K. Chowdhury on the publication of his statement on the Culture of Peace.  You can read it by selecting the link below.

The Ashland Culture of Peace Commission invited Amb. Chowdhury to contribute a paper on the Culture of Peace.


Health and the Sustainable Development Goals: The International Community’s response to Challenges facing Refugees and forced migrants

Recent events

Advancing the Cause of Disarmament for Development –Dialog on the Culture of Peace

By  Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations We all get energized whenever we absorb the essence of the following message conveyed by President Dwight Eisenhower of the United States: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.” These words become even more meaningful as those are from a military General. With this pertinent message in mind, the fourth meeting in the annual Dialogue on the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence focusing on the theme, “Advancing the Cause of Disarmament for Development” was held on 2 October 2017. The Soka University of America in California launched the initiative three years ago to provide a platform for dialogue on the culture of peace as an essential transformational change that humanity needs to embrace in the best interest of our world. This year’s theme is most appropriate given the increasing tensions throughout the world amid the reality of growing nuclear and military proliferation, while at the same time success in poverty reduction continues to be an elusive objective as income and gender inequality become more pronounced with increasing disparity and depravation. Given this reality, the disarmament for development agenda highlights the importance of understanding the tradeoff between using resources for military proliferation versus directing them toward expanding elimination of poverty and ensuring sustainable development for our people and our planet. As we know very well, militarism and militarization are probably the world’s largest barrier to ending poverty.  Military and weapons spending takes away the resources that should have otherwise been devoted to human needs. This year’s keynote speaker was South African Parliamentarian Ms. Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma. October 2nd is Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. The UN designated it as the International Day of Non-Violence. According to General Assembly resolution A/RES/61/271 of 15 June 2007, which established the commemoration, the International Day is an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness.”  The resolution reaffirms “the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence” and the desire “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence.”

Brookings Seminar  Considers the Impact of Changes in Immigration Policy

Brookings panelOn September 22, 2017, Dr. Daniel Melnick attended an event at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC at which a distinguished panel discussed the impact of the current Administration’s immigration policy.  The panel included former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano [currently the President of the University of California System], Senior Fellow at the Migration Policy Institute and former Commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service Doris Meissner, and UnidosUS  Senior Policy Advisor Carlos Guevara. The panel members strongly criticized the decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program [DACA].  They called attention to the impact of this decision on the status of more than 800,000 people and the possible negative impact if other programs—such as those protecting people who have come here from Haiti and El Salvador are also ended. The panel noted the difficulties that any government would face in taking action against these creative and responsible people who have lived in the United States for long periods of time.  They also noted that the costs of taking action, as well as the costs of building a border wall, would be very high. In response to a question from Dr. Melnick, Doris Meissner said that the current administration’s actions have created an atmosphere of fear, “changed the image of America” and eroded a core value of America as a welcoming country. She noted that the current Administration views immigration as “a threat and a danger to the country not as an asset.” She noted that “if any group are the victims of threats around the world, it is … the refugees.” More information about this event can be found on the Brookings website – including a video of the entire event. See https://www.brookings.edu/events/immigration-policy-in-trumps-america/ Brookings has also prepared several substantial reports on the topic which can be found on that site. IHAN plans to hold a conference on Health Security: Collective and Individual, Challenges posed by forced migration, refugees, and scarce resources. The conference will be held in the Church Center on November 2, 2017. More information about the IHAN Conference will be posted here shortly. 


IHAN worked collaboratively with the NGO Health Committee to co-sponsor 11 events during 2015, 2016 and the first 6 months of 2017.  These events focused on Health issues that are vital to the concerns of the United Nations.

Events 2017 – January to June

June 6, 2017 HIV/AIDS Revisited Achievements and Remaining Challenges – National and Global View

March 15, 2017 Empowering Women Through Education and Social Policy Transforming Elder Care

February 7, 2017 The Global Challenge of Diabetes in Children and Adults

Additional Events are planned later in the year

Events 2016

October 19, 2016 Zika: Global Health Challenges and Long-Term Effects

June 8, 2016 Integrating Mental Health in Primary Care A Global Perspective

April 28, 2016 The Global Paradox of Obesity and Malnutrition

March 18, 2016 A Quality Health Workforce

October 21, 2015 Forced Migration: A Pandemic Health Care for the Displaced

Events 2015

June 17, 2015 The Challenge of Health Care for People Displaced by Conflict/Disaster

May 6, 2015 Immunization A successful health intervention with unrealized global potential

March 11, 2015 Moving the Political/Social Agenda for Women’s Equality & Health

IHAN Participates in UN NGO meeting on Intergenerational Dialogues on the Sustainable Development Goals August 1, 2017

IHAN insert on SDG

On August 1, 2017, Dr. Sorosh Roshan, President of IHAN represented the organization at the United Nations Dialogues on the role of generational collaboration to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

In a special message to the conference, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed that together the old and young people can collaborate to break the cycle of poverty that has lasted for generations. He said it would “trigger transformational change that endures for generations to come.”

The UN’s Department of Public Information Non-Governmental Organizations and its Executive Committee organized the dialogue.

The meeting featured 6 Dialogue sessions in the morning session and a plenary in the afternoon. It included an address by H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly, and Jayathma Wickramanayake, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.

The participants considered ways to break the Intergenerational Cycle of Poverty, Gender Equality, Access to Employment Though out Life, Shared responsibility for the Planet, Intergenerational Innovation, and Healthy Living—both physical and mental.

The discourse focused on a central theme to advance Sustainable Development. Reflecting on the presentations, Dr. Roshan commented, “The speakers stressed that increasing inequality between the haves and have nots constitutes the major barrier to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development goals. Including Women and marginalized people is the most appropriate remedy. The speakers called attention to the need for NGO participation and the active support from governments  to achieve the goals of sustainable development and achieving human progress.” Reflecting on her more than 40 years of participation in the NGO community, Dr. Roshan recognized the progress achieved. She noted that “working together is the path to success in meeting the challenges that remain.”


On October 15, 2016, the IHAN Advisory Board met at the home of  Dr. Sarachi. The Board reviewed IHAN’s recent work, past accomplishments and set a course for its future activities.

Key points were:

  • IHAN will cooperate with and support the work of the NGO Health Committee.
  • IHAN will continue to focus on maternal and child health, women’s rights, empowerment and gender equality related issues.
  • IHAN will play an active role supporting the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. It will seek to participate in activities related to the Commission’s 2017 meetings to be held in March 2017.
  • IHAN will engage in activities in support of the work of ECOSOC and will seek to collaborate with other NGOs in support of UN agencies.
  • IHAN will work to enhance its partnerships with academic institutions [including Lehman College, Fordham University, the Pennsylvania State University and others] and will reach out to students and faculty at these institutions.
  • IHAN has worked in support of  Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury’s work related to the global movement to promote the culture of peace.
  • IHAN is resolved to increase new and younger participants and will welcome new initiatives that they may propose.

Dr. Vijaya Melnick thanked Dr. Roshan for her tireless efforts on behalf of IHAN and turned over the Presidency of IHAN to her. Dr. Melnick will continue to serve as the co-President of the organization.

After the business was concluded, board members enjoyed the hospitality of Dr. and Mr. Sarachi. Members were especially thankful for the sumptuous home cooked Persian meal and look forward to their next meeting.

IHAN Participates in CWS60

A Quality Health Workforce for Healthy Families and Sustainable Communities and Cities

On March 18, 2016, IHAN co-sponsored a side event on the occasion of the 60th meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations in New York. The session was organized by the UN NGO Health Committee.

Speakers focused on gaps in the present health care system and suggested some of the steps needed to provide quality care to families.

Speakers stressed the need for:

    • Universal health coverage as a pillar of sustainable development and global security
    • Providing health care services to promote wellness, prevent and cure disease and rehabilitate people.
    • Forming inter-professional and multidisciplinary teams
    • Promoting inter-professional education
    • Promoting collaborative practice
    • Deploying an adequate numbers of the health workers in the right place, at the right time, performing, motivated and empowered to deliver quality services which are appropriate and acceptable to the social and cultural expectations of the population.
    • Conducting research that corrects deficits in services to promote the health and wellbeing of women.
    • Reforming health care research and medical education to improve coverage of women’s health issues in particular related to the identification of signs and symptoms of disease among women.
    • Including collaboration and effective communication among health disciplines in the curricula of health professions education.

The speakers featured at this meeting were:

    • Gabrielle Casper, MBBS, FRANZCOG Professor, Department of OB/GYN. University of Notre  Dame in Sydney, Australia
    • Antonia M. Villarruel, RN, PhD, FAAN Dean, School of Nursing University of Pennsylvania
    • Mwansa Nkowane, RN, BSN, MA Technical Officer, Department of Health Workforce;               World Health Organization/Geneva

Meeting of Dr. Melnick with Dr. B.R. Lakshmi founder of the Molecular Diagnostics, Counseling, Care and Research Center, INDIA 

During her visit to the United States in September 2015, Dr. B.R. Lakshmi held a meeting with Dr. Vijaya Melnick, President of IHAN. Dr. Lakshmi is the founder of India’s Molecular Diagnostics, Counseling, Care & Research Centre. [MDCRC]  Headquartered in Coimbatore a large city in India’s Tamilnadu state, the center is a not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to identifying and alleviating the rare disorders of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). These two lethal genetic disorders affect children because the conditions are expressed in childhood and it is rare for affected individuals to survive beyond age 25.  There is no known cure.

DMD is usually apparent by age 6 and results in severe motor disability by age 10 or 12.  Life expectancy is less than 25 years. Due to the genetic characteristics of the disease, the vast majority of those affected are boys, but the disease has occurred in girls rarely.  [see NIH discussion for more information.]

There are several types of SMA including a type that can only be transmitted to girls. [Because it is linked to the X chromosome.] Several types are transmitted are autosomal recessive, that is to say, both parents must carry the defective gene. The expression and prognosis is similar to DMD but the condition is more rare.  [ A fuller explanation can be found here.]

As these disorders progress, children are not able to enjoy active play and run like other kids. In most cases in India, schools do not accommodate their disabilities and they cannot attend school.  Though mentally agile, they are confined to wheel chairs by age 10 or 12.

The MDCRC is a recognized referral center for Molecular Diagnosis for DMD and SMA and has been recognized by the Health and Family Welfare Department of Tamilnadu state. Dr. Lakshmi explained her organization’s work.  MDCRC was founded in 2006.

Dr. Melnick and Dr. Lakshmi discussed the epidemiological, ethical and clinical implications of understanding and managing such genetic disorders.

DMD is an X-linked recessive disorder, affecting male children, while SMA is an autosomal-recessive disorder. Consanguineous marriages, in which both parents have a common ancestor, increase the chance that a child will be born with these disorders. Thus, public health efforts are critical to addressing these tragic cases and reducing or eliminating the problem.

The center concentrates its efforts on identifying families that have a high probability of producing children with this disorder. Molecular and genetic diagnosis plays a crucial role in identifying, preventing and setting the base for future therapeutic strategies to address these disorders. By mid-2015, Dr. Lakshmi and her colleagues identified close to 3000 children affected with DMD, and 600 of SMA. Studies reported by their staff suggest that in some areas of India the risk of these disorders is 2.4 times higher than reported in other parts of the world.

MDCRC goes beyond diagnosis to also provide comprehensive services to the families with children affected with DMD and SMA. Their services include multi-disciplinary clinical care offered free of cost to patients. This includes Pediatrics, Neurology, Orthopedics, Pulmonology and Cardiology. The center provides  weekends and evenings to give the kids and families some nice memorable moments.

Dr. Lakshmi said that “MDCRC is the only centre in India offering such comprehensive services for these disorders.”

Dr. Melnick discussed IHAN’s interest in MDCRC’s efforts and explored possible future collaboration.

Report on the

                              HIGH LEVEL FORUM ON THE CULTURE 0F PEACE    

 by Eliana Horta, RN, MS, MPH

On September 9, 2015 an all-day conference on the Culture of Peace was held in the Trusteeship Council Chamber of the United Nations Headquarters in New York.   We, the torch carriers of the International Health Awareness Network, have long been aware of peace as an essential component of high-level health. The presence of peace contributes to individual and collective health, productivity and prosperity in social networks ranging in size from dyad to home, work place, and community to the international arena.  Many struggle to define the concept of peace with ever more precision and to identify the essential processes that foster peace.  

An important milestone in the involvement of civil society (a term as used at the UN – all of us in NGOs and the general public) in naming the culture of peace occurred in September 1999.   The General Assembly adopted by consensus the United Nations Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace.  There were precedents for such a Declaration in the Charter of the United Nations, as well as the Constitution of UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Nevertheless, the move toward adoption of the Declaration on a Culture of Peace required the thought and commitment of advocates led by Bangladeshi diplomat and former Under-Secretary-General of the UN, Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury.   This year, Ambassador Chowdhury moderated the afternoon panel of the High Level Forum.

We hope you will be inspired to read the Declaration which can be found, in seven languages, at:  www.un.org/Docs/asp/ws.asp?M=A/Res/53/243 .   Not content to rest on his laurels after passage of the important Declaration, Ambassador Chowdhury’s initiative as President of the Security Council resulted in the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, an historic document that heralded the role of women in peace and security.  For the first time, the Security Council addressed the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women and moved to protect the rights of women and children in conflict and post-conflict areas.  Equally importantly, Resolution 1325 acknowledged the under-used and under-valued contribution women make to prevention and resolution of conflict and to peace building. 

As the High Level Forum began, His Excellency Mr. Sam Kutesa, President of the General Assembly opened the morning session.   After his welcoming remarks, he introduced Secretary-General of the United Nations, His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-Moon. The Secretary-General voiced his support for the Culture of Peace and noted the continued and increasing recognition of Culture of Peace at the UN.  Various luminaries of the Culture of Peace, followed with presentations sharing their perspectives on the culture of peace, gleaned from experiences lived around the world in myriad positions of government and civil society.

From the many learned perspectives brought to bear by the distinguished speakers at the Forum, space constraints limit this account to the Keynote Address by Mr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of the apostle of non-violence and Indian independence leader, Mahatma Gandhi.  Through remembrances and lessons learned from his grand- father, Mr. Gandhi noted that the culture of peace is much more than an abstraction.  Mahatma Gandhi believed that Peace is not merely the absence of war, killing and violence. Rather, peace relies on the active involvement of people. In that sense, his non-violent techniques were not passive, but rather the height of active engagement.  He  taught that the  waste of natural resources is violence against nature. Depriving people of resources is violence against humanity.  He urged us to take personal responsibility for the parsimonious use of resources so that all people can achieve real prosperity.

 Mr. Arun Gandhi illustrated, throughout his presentation, that the heart of peace not only eschews physical violence but the invasive permissiveness of  “passive violence” as well.   There is, in passive violence, a persistent intent to control others through fear, or acts of injustice that exacerbate anger and violence. It is not only in avoiding active violence, he said, that we are not violent.   We may commit passive violence without self-awareness.  In his words, we must become aware that passive violence acts are “violence against nature or humanity”.    Mr. Gandhi spoke about “personal transformation” in which one becomes aware of passive violence and our personal responsibility for such acts.

 For Mr. Gandhi “culture of peace” is not  achieved only through  institutions, government and laws.  “Laws cannot make us respect, accept, understand or be considerate to others.”  The Culture of Peace, he adds, requires personal transformation.  It requires each of us to live our lives without hurting others emotionally, socially or culturally.   “The worst violence is ignoring poverty”, he declares.   “Peace is from the bottom up.   We must become the change we want to see in the world.”

Mahatma Gandhi, his grandfather believed in “a global vision… our future, our destiny is interconnected one to the other to create stability, prosperity and security for all. We, all of us, hold the accountability for consciousness of our purpose in life, the interconnection of every human being for the wellbeing, happiness and survival of humanity.”

Panel discussion and individual speakers throughout the day echoed the perspectives of the UN Declaration of Action on a Culture of Peace and the Security Council Resolution 1325 as giant steps forward.  Implicit in that perspective is the moral imperative that we all take up the work necessary to move together, step by step on the walk toward peace.  Only then will we “…transition from force to reason, from conflict and violence to dialogue and peace.”

Listening to the High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace was a lift from the dispiriting barrage of news of forced migration and suffering wrought by conflict, poverty and social injustice.  The sharp contrast between “the possible” and  “the present” impels us toward the work of building together a culture of peace.


All the World’s Future

JULY 2015

By:  Sorosh Roshan,MD, MPH

Founder President of IHAN

The Biennale Arte in Venice titled “ All the World’s Futures” explores via architecture, art, cinema, dance, music and theatre many vital issues. Eighty nine countries are participating in the show that runs from May 9th to November 22nd 2015. The exhibits feature such areas of concern as sustainable development, gender equality in the workplace, climate change and its relation to poverty and marginalization of women that are directly related to IHANs mission.  The current exhibitions, as well as the history of the Venetian event make it an important occasion to reach a substantial and influential public.  This report is based on my visit to the Biennale and focuses on areas of direct interest to IHAN members.

pic 11 UNESCOThe exhibition is the occasion for the gathering of many engaged and interesting people. Meeting and talking with them is one of its major benefits.

The 56th International Art Exhibition curated by Okwui Enwezor expands from the central Pavillon at the Giardini to the Arsenale and to many areas in other buildings in the city. What follows features a few examples that are intended to wet the appetite of our members. [More detailed information about the exhibits can be seen on their website http://www.labiennale.org/en/art/exhibition/ .] Even if you can’t make it to Venice in person, you can use this website to be a virtual participant.

Here I report on key exhibits that feature IHAN’s priorities and relate to the countries where we have been working.


My first visit  was to the exhibition by UNESCO.   Themes were:  Behind Food Sustainability; Cultural and Natural Diversity;  and Feeding Our Future.


The UNESCO exhibit focused on three themes:

  • Fostering Participation,
  • Protective Diversity; Balancing the Food Economy; and
  • Looking After The Land.

IHAN is committed to the Culture of Peace, Education and cultural heritage advancement, values that closely reflect UNESCO’s program. 



The Australian Pavilion was replete with information about their history, tribes,culture and life.  It’s major theme is “A cultural home for Australia on the international stage”.

For several years IHAN has collaborated with Dr. Gabrielle Casper, a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at a prominent university professor in Sydney. She has been a featured speaker in IHAN sponsored parallel events during the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) events at the United Nations for the last few years.  Dr. Casper has also facilitated the participation of a group of medical students from her university to make brief presentations, at our sponsored events at CSW, on their studies of varied issues related to the health care of women and girls. Dr. Casper’s has advocated the donation of state-of-the- art portable ultra sound machines developed for low resource settings.  The contribution of these machines for the maternal health project of IHAN in Tanzania in 2014 and 2015 has been greatly appreciated by both our colleague Madam Zahra Nuru and the Tanzanian Ambassador to the UN who has facilitated delivery of the machines to an area designated by Madam Nuru.


The South African Pavilion celebrates the  peaceful reconciliation and historical end of Apartheid in their country . Desmond Tutu’s enlightening message of forgiveness and peaceful solutions to violence and injustice was heart warming. As a representative of IHAN, Dr. Suzanne Stutman, first Vice President of IHAN and I have had the pleasure and honor of meeting Desmond Tutu on behalf of IHAN’s work.


South Korea, submitted a very informative video presentation on discrimination against women in the work place and labor laws. The achievement of South Korean women to effect change is very inspiring.  Honorable Yun Sook Lee [a member of our advisory board] has been indefatigable leader of women’s movement in South Korea and globally. We are honored to have worked with outstanding women of South Korea.


Two exhibitions from China are interesting.

One is called Highway to Hell, conceptualized and developed by Kiang Heing.

The exhibition depicted, with vibrant and artistic works, the devastating effects of a rapid pace of life characterized by materialistic and superficial goals and often self-referential ways of life.

The second Exhibition from China  is located on the Island of St.Giorgo. Curated  by Liu Xiaodong  it describes the Hotan Project  on the issue of ethnic workers in the jade industry and other work related issues.

Liu used a unique approach setting up a temporary studio and included  sketches, diaries, oil painting and photography. A camera team was also present to document the entire progress with a film.

In order to complete the project, Hou Hanru, chief curator of the project launched a complex series of programs parallel to the painting. It includes on-site research, historical research, tournament exhibitions, film viewing, seminars and on-line publications.

Art by Jaume Plensa, Barcelona Spain

Also on the island of St. Giorgo, among the many and varied exhibits there,  was a thought provoking presentation  by a renown artist from Barcelona, Jaume Plensa. 


The exhibits on the island are enhanced by a musical treat: wonderful musicians and singers. For example, during my visit, they featured a Vivaldi concert at the Vivaldi Church and an Opera in Concert with the arias of Verdi and Puccini. Other performances continue throughout the life of the exhibition.


pic 13One exhibit features A monumental work by Magdalena Abakanowicz, born in Poland in1930. She is considered one of the most prominent artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.  The painting,Titled Crowd and Individual,  was a stellar attraction in the exhibit. 


The Curator of the exhibit [Luca Massimo Barero]  wrote:  ” The Crowd of 110 figures, faces a counterpart an animal-like being, also referred to as the Mutant.  The figures have an extremely haptic, lively surface, resembling tree barks but are, in fact, empty shells. … I think that the impact of Magdalena Abakanowicz ‘s work arises from the way she conveys, through a powerful sense of a crowd or group, a human condition with an existential meaning in which often faceless people are bewildered bystanders, who find or lose themselves again.”


A Japanese artist honored the art of the traditional tea ceremony by means of a glass tea house in the middle of water in a shallow pool constructed with blue tiles from Japan.

Japanese tea house

ISLAND of Giudecca

On the last day in Venice,  my hostess Paula invited me to visit the vineyard in the Island of Giudecca.  She works there as a volunteer helping to preserve the vineyard and the surrounding garden. It was a wonderful experience to be in nature with the glories of grapes, zucchini flowers and an herb garden.


The Biennale continues through November 22 with both changing and continuing themes, exhibitions and events.  In August for example, there is a program (among many) that asks the question: How is knowledge formed within one person and transmitted through time, space, and social relationships?  Specific topics to be considered range from artist-initiated educational institutions, to the potential of curriculum for community-wide learning, and the future of education in Afghanistan.

Thank you

This report greatly benefited from the contributions provided by Dr. Beatrice Goodwin, Chair of the NGO Health Committee and a Board member of the International Health Awareness Network (IHAN), and  Eliana Horta, IHAN representative to the UN.  Board members from South Africa, Dr. Jaco Hoffman and Amanda Diener, Esq. first alerted me to the importance of the exhibit.


On October 19th, IHAN was a co-sponsor of a program organized by the NGO HEALTH COMMITTEE to educate participants on the challenges and long term effects of Zika.  The program was also co-sponsored by the  Armenian Relief Society, and the NYU Rory Meyers College Of Nursing.

The program was moderated by PAULA DUNN TROPELO, RN, FNP, EdD [Dean, School of Nursing, Wagner College].  The speakers were

  • VINCENT R. RACANIELLO, PhD [Higgins Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University Virologist; Researcher on Zika Virus]
  • WAHEED BAJWA, PhD in Entomology [Executive Director, Vector Surveillance and Control Division of Environmental Health, NY City Dep’t. of Health]
  • RODNEY L. WRIGHT, MD, MS, FACOG [Associate Professor, Clinical Obstetrics, Gynecology & Women’s Health Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine Montefiore Medical Center; Albert Einstein College of Medicine]

Summary of the meeting:

The NGO Health Committee Chair, Dr. Goodwin greeted participants and introduced special guest Dr. Arturo Brito, a pediatrician and Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey State Department of Health’s Office of Public Health Services.

Co-Sponsors of the event were introduced to the audience.  They were Dr. Sorosh Roshan, an Obstetrician-Gynecologist and Founding President of the International Health Awareness Network; Ms. Valentine Berberian, the UN representative of the Armenian Relief Society and Dr. Robin Klar, representative of the Rory Meyers College of Nursing of New York University. Dr. Paula Tropello introduced speakers and served as Moderator.

fullsizerenderThe nationally known virologist, Dr. Vincent Racaniello discussed the Zika virus as an almost sudden and recent phenomenon of concern.  Although Zika virus was discovered in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947 and is common in Africa and Asia, over a period of fifty years less than 20 cases of Zika infection were known there.  The virus did not begin spreading widely in the Western Hemisphere until 2016, when an outbreak occurred in northeast Brazil. In the summer of 2016 a dramatic rise in babies born with microcephaly in northeast Brazil suddenly alarmed us.  Via research and study of affected babies, the Zika virus was quickly determined to be the cause.  The Zika virus is a mosquito-transmitted infection just as dengue, yellow fever and West Nile are also spread.  Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). Dr. Racaniello pointed out that recent research has focused on identifying what kinds of cells in the brain the virus affects and how it crosses the placental barrier.  An animal model using mice has been identified to facilitate ongoing research.  A hoped-for outcome is ultimately the development of a vaccine against the virus.

Local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission has been reported in the continental United States.  Although Miami Beach has been an area of concern for local transmission with 139 cases, the vast majority of cases of Zika in the United States are found among those who have traveled to areas where Zika-infected mosquitos are more common.

Data available online from the Centers for Disease Control report, as of October 26, 2016, show 4,091 laboratory-confirmed cases of Zika viral infection in the USA.  States with the highest number of cases are:  NY with 886 cases (22% of US total) Florida with 708 cases (18% of total), California 309 cases (8% of US total) and Texas 232 (6% of US total).

img_4166While the Zika virus causes no symptoms in most people, there is also the possibility of development of flu-like symptoms and in more serious incidences, the Guillian-Barré syndrome. The disease burden of the Zika virus is most clearly stacked, as we now understand it, against pregnant woman, their babies and their families.  In addition to microcephaly, there are severe joint contractures that may occur during fetal development.  The effects of such occurrences are potentially devastating to families with immediate decisions, care and possible long-term care required.  The health care system is also taxed with providing appropriate maternity care that supports families in decisions to be made and in care of mothers, babies and their families.  Resources and economic stress on all concerned is a factor of concern.

One might ask why in Brazil one finds problem of microcephaly and beginning now in the US, though Zika has been present in Asia and Africa and we hear nothing about that problem there.  It is thought that because there is, as Dr. Bajwa explained in his presentation, some population immunity, women of childbearing age have likely been exposed to the virus in childhood and have built up immunity to it.  Thus Zika does not affect their pregnancy or the fetus.

CDC has issued special travel considerations for travelers to countries where Zika virus is endemic.  Warnings are particularly aimed at pregnant women and those women who are anticipating becoming pregnant, as well as their sexual partners.   Sexual transmission of Zika virus is an area of knowledge that is changing rapidly.  Thus, checking latest information and recommendations on travel locations as well as pregnancy-related questions for women and men is a valuable health resource that can be life-changing.

Dr. Wright presented the problems of infection with Zika virus and its effects in pregnant women and the incubation period, the virus in seminal fluid and sexual transmission of the virus from women to men.  Dr. Wright’s clinical practice in a large metropolitan health care system requires care of a number of pregnant women who are found by laboratory testing to have Zika viral infection.  The concerns of the family and fetal development are carefully monitored. Both obstetric and pediatric care are adjusting to needed monitoring.  Such care requires an informed and sensitive multidisciplinary health care team. Development in the fetus is monitored.  Care of infants born to women with active Zika infection during pregnancy is being carefully approached and recorded since consequences are as yet not fully known.

Moderator Dr. Tropello opened the audience participation session.  Several questions from audience members were triggered by presentations of the speakers.  Health professionals in the audience asked clinical care questions based on information presented.  Discussion was lively and sustained by an obvious desire to use information in clinical applications.

Dr. Bajwa, in response to several questions, discussed the preventive methods to eliminate breeding areas of mosquitoes. He emphasized that people, especially those in suburban and rural areas can do much to avoid standing water sources of mosquito breeding and using public health agency services to request drainage of standing water areas in the public domain.  Larvicide and adulticide spraying by hand, truck and plane are resources that may be called upon to control mosquito growth. Answering a question if “spraying” against mosquitos might, in itself, be a health hazard for people, Dr. Bajwa emphasized the amount of bactericide or insecticide used in such spraying is not a health threat to humans since the amount of bacteria or insecticide is quite small. Use of repellants may also be useful for self-protection.  It is helpful to remember the two species of mosquitos carrying Zika virus bite in daytime as well as night.  In New York City the Health Department Vector Surveillance and Control program is fully operational from April 1 to October 31.

The program showed that Zika and its impact on society should be monitored into the future.


Sponsored by IHAN (International Health Awareness Network) 
  • The Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service Institute for Women and Girls, 
  • Lehman College of CUNY, 
  • the Ribbon International and 
  • the Global Movement on the Culture of Peace.


In response to the recent challenges created by increased human mobility, particularly forced migration due to conflict, natural disasters, severe economic distress, and political unrest throughout the world, we will bring together migration and health experts, as well as researchers, students, and policymaker to:
– Identify immediate priorities that need to be addressed,
– Identify existing/establish new networks and partnerships that could effectively address these priorities,
– Review these issues in the context of the General Assembly’s 2015 Sustainable Development Goals and
– Summarize main policy issues that, as a UN-affiliated NGO, we can advocate for and propose to national and international decision-makers.


– Ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, who served as the Permanent Representative of Bangla Desh to the United Nations, President of the Security Council, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for Least Developed Country, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States. He is deeply committed to the United Nations initiative to promote the Culture of Peace.
– William W. Latimer, Ph.D., M.P.H. is the founding dean of the Lehman College School of Health Sciences, Human Services and Nursing at the City University of New York, Bronx, New York and interim director of the CUNY Institute for Health Equity.
– Dr. Meera Ramanathan is on the faculty of the PSG Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Coimbatore India. She has served as a physician providing medical care in refugee camps in India on several occasions and will be speaking about her experiences.
– Dr. Marciana Popescu, Associate Professor of Social Work at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service.
– Dr. Melody Behnam, MD and Dr. Sulang Rosado MD practicing OBGYNs
-Prof. Suzanne Stutman Ph.D., Penn State University Abington who read a poem
– Dr. Sorosh Roshan, President of IHAN convened the meeting which was chaired by Dr. Vijaya Melnick who presented a paper on the fate of the Rohingya refugees.
-Maria Cristina Necula presented a spectacular vocal performance during the musical interlude.
After the presentations, IHAN presented awards to the 3 students whose essays were selected for recognition and the students presented brief summaries of their work.