MEDI 4151 Poverty, Health & Disease

Course Directors

Jason Rosenfeld, DPH, MPH

Course Description

This is a four week elective offered in March-April of the fourth year of medical school to students who wish to gain insight into the complex interplay between poverty and health, both in the United States and in resource-limited settings around the world. The purpose of the course is to expose students to several thought leaders and appropriate published literature, including books, written to address these concepts.

After attending a lecture on AIDS which I delivered to the second year UTHSA medical students, a student came to me and said: “With all this HIV all over the world; why don’t they just use condoms?” Her question illustrates the need to teach health providers in training about the complex interplay between poverty and health, inequalities and infections, and the roles of economic and political, as well as public health interventions for improving the health status of a population.

This course will explore the problems of inequality of access to health care and its impact on health delivery systems with examples from Burma, Haiti, and New Orleans. Local and invited speakers will address health disparities, potential solutions, and model projects for impoverished populations.

Learning Objectives

  • To learn about complex interrelationships between poverty and health, in Haiti and in the South-eastern United States, especially as they relate to HIV disease.
  • To learn about the impact of civil unrest and poverty on population health, especially through the examples of Haiti and Burma.
  • To read one scholarly, relevant book.

Course Requirements

  • Students are expected to attend all scheduled seminars and lectures. Lecture/Conference time will average two hours per day, for a total of 8-10 hours.
  • Oral presentation: each student will participate in a 30-40 minute oral presentation in which they will summarize main concepts from a course-approved book, linking themes to issues discussed by the lecturers in the beginning of the course. There will be a 10-minute class discussion period at the end of the book group’s oral presentation.

If you are interested in this course, please contact Iris Mast at or