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Modeling Health Systems as Complex Adaptive Systems in Country of Georgia over Winter Break


December 3, 2014

Second Year MPH student Alex Krengel, an SGO leader concentrating in Health Management and Policy, will be spending his winter break helping develop a model of complex adaptive systems in the country of Georgia. Before he leaves, he took time to fill us in on the project.

What will you be working on?
I will be conducting literature review for a new project called "Health Systems as Complex Adaptive Systems." My lit review will result in a final synthesis and presentation of model of complex adaptive systems--which is a way of modeling and understanding the development of systems that involve complex, fluid, and dynamic behaviors and interactions between citizens, organizations, policy makers and other agents.

The purpose of the study is to better understand the development of health systems as a set of dynamic processes between thousands of agents in a shifting environment. As we've seen demonstrated in the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa, having models that can improve the planning and development of adaptive health systems in developing nations is vital to the health and well-being of our global community.

What drew you to apply for this program?
A friend of mine named Guram is from Georgia, we met two years ago and Seattle and became quite close. Ever since he departed, I have been looking for opportunities to go to Georgia. Curatio International Foundation emerged during the transition as a leader in health reform for Georgia's transition economy. It has since became a leading think tank for global health systems and policy in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
I love to travel and am very excited to combine that passion with the opportunity to develop my knowledge of global health systems.

What is the situation currently like in the country of Georgia?
Georgia seems to be a well-misunderstand place. By all personal accounts, it is mostly well-developed and very hospitable place, with a tremendous amount of rich history and beautiful landscape. After the "civil war" with Russia in the early 1990s, It has maintained its sovereignty and built a stable and growing economy. There are a number of remote villages that have been left behind throughout the transition, and the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia is and has been held by Russian militants since the civil war.

Most importantly, wine was invented in Georgia over 8,000 years ago. They have a very rich viticulture. If you read through some of the well known travel blogs, Georgia appears to be one of the world's greatest hidden gems.

What skills from your educational experience at Drexel will be put to the test?
My objective for this internship will be to develop a good understanding of complex adaptive systems and how those models can help contextualize the development of health systems around the world. I will be testing skills gained in HMP coursework to analyze systems issues as well as applying the general framework of public health practice to my research. Ever since my early experiences in rural areas in South America (Peru, Honduras, Panama), I've been interested in addressing access issues both at home and in developing areas. How can we as public health professionals aid in the development of lasting health infrastructures which will raise the standard of living?