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Lesson Plan

This lesson is designed for health classrooms, grades 9-12. Social studies classes may also find this lesson helpful.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, students will:
  1. Examine the social, economic, and political effects of disease on individuals, families, and communities.
  2. Explore the efforts of a philanthropist.
  3. Research global health issues and infectious diseases, including those that have been eradicated in the United States but still exist in undeveloped countries.
  4. Determine ways to address global health issues.
  5. Write a grant proposal.

Related National Health Standards

Standard 1: Students will comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention. Performance indicators for this standard center around identifying what is good health, recognizing health problems, and ways in which lifestyle, the environment, and public policies can promote health.

Standard 4: Students will analyze the influence of culture, media, technology, and other factors on health. Performance indicators are related to describing and analyzing how one's cultural background, messages from the media, technology, and one's friends influence health.


Estimated Time to Complete Lesson

Two to four 45-minute class periods, depending upon the number of lesson activities used.


Materials Needed

  • Internet access, or copies of relevant pages
  • Copy of the 5/9/03 NOW WITH BILL MOYERS broadcast and TV/VCR (Note: A free transcript of this program is available on the NOW Web site. Teachers may also tape the broadcast off-air and use it in the classroom for one year. Alternatively, programs are available for purchase from ShopPBS.
  • Handout: Responding to Global Health Issues. (PDF file)
  • Optional for Part I: A copy of the 5/3/02 NOW WITH BILL MOYERS broadcast


Backgrounder for Teachers

Modern medicine has made tremendous advancements in the prevention and treatment of many diseases. Access to these developments, however, is not equitably distributed around the world. For example, diseases such as polio and tuberculosis, which have been eradicated in the United States, daily take the lives of many in undeveloped nations. As good health is vital to reducing poverty and speeding the development of third-world countries, many have dedicated their time and resources to bridging the gap in health care worldwide. Among them is Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates, who has committed significant financial resources to reducing the disease burden in developing countries.

The 5/9/03 NOW with BILL MOYERS broadcast includes a brief introduction to global health issues, followed by an approximately 40-minute conversation between Bill Moyers and Bill Gates. The focus of their discussion is how and why Gates is targeting global health in his philanthropic efforts, which provides students with some important knowledge about big problems that exist outside of the United States, and some of the strategies in place to address them.

Before teaching this lesson, please review the transcript of this interview and its companion resources on the NOW Web site. Additional background on specific global health issues can be found by visiting the Web sites listed in the Related Resources section of this lesson.


Assumed Student Prior Knowledge

It is assumed that students have a general familiarity with health care in the United States, particularly with respect to vaccinations (i.e. Students were vaccinated against disease as children and had to prove such vaccinations were received in order to enter public school.) Students should understand activities related to philanthropy and charities. Students should also know how to conduct research and write persuasively.


Teaching Strategy

Part I: Putting a Face on Global Health Crises

Help students connect to the cultural, social, economic, individual, family and community aspects of global health crises by exploring some or all of the following resources:

  • NOW: AIDS Stories
    Bring the AIDS crisis in Africa to life by examining the stories of some living with the disease. Have students read the parts of the different speakers quoted in the provided transcripts. Then, talk or write about the situations of the people in the stories. For example, for AIDS sufferer Margaret, discuss her living conditions, her shunning by the community, her treatment and what type (if any) of preventive education she could have received.

  • NOW: AIDS Poem
    Read the poem titled "AIDS: Have You No Mercy?" by Simon Wainyoke of Nairobi, Kenya. Examine its message and discuss how Simon's personal experiences (included below the poem) with AIDS have affected his life.

  • NOW: Video Backgrounder on Global Health Issues
    The 5/9/03 NOW with BILL MOYERS program begins with a brief introduction to global health issues, including the SARS outbreak, the AIDS epidemic, and more. See Materials Needed for acquisition information.

  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Story Gallery
    Show students one or more slideshows describing a number of world health crises, such as, "Breaking the Chain: The Global Effort to Stop TB", "A World Without Polio" and "AIDS: The Next Generation." If time permits, present the slideshows several times for students to grasp the information and absorb the visual pictures. Then, have students make inferences about what the slides show in regards to access to health care, education, disease prevention, disease treatment, research, and technology in countries such as Africa and India. Finally, conduct a Think/Pair/Share activity to respond to the following:
    1. Take turns sharing your reactions and thoughts about the slideshows.
    2. How do global health issues affect each of us here in the United States?
    3. Why would it be important for individuals in the U.S. to become involved in health care efforts outside of the U.S.?

Part II: Why and How Billionaire Bill Gates Supports Global Health

Students can get a deeper understanding of global health issues by examining the philanthropic efforts of Bill Gates.

  1. Ask students what they would do with their money if they were billionaires. Spend a few minutes discussing student responses.

  2. Ask students if they know who Bill Gates is. As needed, provide background information about Bill Gates, using the introduction on the NOW Web site.

  3. Explain to students that Gates has made a commitment to global health and has allocated financial resources for research, prevention programs, and the distribution of resources in an effort to eradicate and control the spread of disease. Then show the approximately 40-minute conversation between Bill Moyers and Bill Gates from the 5/9/03 NOW with BILL MOYERS program. To guide student viewing, have them complete the Responding to Global Health Issues handout (PDF file). It is suggested that students be able to refer to the interview transcript while viewing to answer the questions. You may also wish to show the video in segments to allow students time to respond to questions on the handout or to engage in class discussion.

Part III: Research World Health Epidemics and Issues

Students will research the following diseases and global health issues:

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Polio
  • Tuberculosis
  • Malaria
  • SARS
  • Immunization Programs
  • Reproductive Health

1. Place students in small groups of 3-4 students and assign or let them choose a research topic from the list above. (See Related Resources for Web site recommendations, or provide access to the library or other research materials.)

2. Students (if working on a specific disease) will report on the symptoms, transmission, prevention and treatment of the disease, as well as where the disease is most commonly found in the world. The group should then construct a plan of action to eradicate the disease, including strategies for education, prevention, and developing a cure. Groups working on a health issue should detail the problems associated with their issue and describe some of the programs that are currently addressing these problems.

3. Have each group report out their findings to the class. Consider having groups use a computer slide show or other visual method to share their information.

Part IV: Culminating Activity — Writing a Grant Proposal

Students will apply their knowledge of world health issues to the development of a grant proposal that seeks to make a difference in a global health area.

  1. To trigger grant development ideas, show students some of the grants proposed and approved by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Also, point out some examples of programs already in place, such as SOUL BUDDYZ, a South African program that uses multimedia to educate communities about health issues such as HIV/AIDS. Students could also develop research and development proposals to support global health. For example, a low-cost breathalyzer (see New Innovative Ideas) was developed in an effort to speed the diagnosis of TB.

  2. Have students then work in partnerships or as individuals to prepare a global health-related grant proposal that includes the following:
    • A description of the issue the grant would address, including statistical information
    • The strategy for addressing this issue and how the grant money, if funded, would make a difference
    • A budget
    The grant proposal should be written in a persuasive style in an effort to convince the grant review board to finance and support the grant.

  3. If time permits, have students present the grant proposals to the class.

Assessment Recommendations

Students may be assessed through their:

  1. Participation in class discussions.
  2. Completion of the Responding to Global Health Issues handout (PDF file).
  3. Accuracy in research.
  4. Quality of group presentations.
  5. Development of a grant proposal.

Extension Ideas

1. Be sure to review NOW's Starter Activities and Take Action ideas related to this lesson's topic.

2. As a billionaire, Bill Gates has a greater ability to provide resources that benefit global health, but high school students can also make a difference. Research Web sites, such as Volunteer Match, that connects individuals with volunteer opportunities. On Volunteer Match, you can search for health-related volunteer efforts in your local area and beyond, and even narrow your search for opportunities appropriate for teens.

3. Investigate careers in the public health field. Explore careers by visiting sites like the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

4. Write a story through the eyes of a person in an undeveloped nation that is suffering from a preventable infectious disease.

5. Research the funding priorities of the federal government. How much is allocated to aid global health issues? After completing research, students can write letters to their congressman expressing either their satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

6. Have students examine NOW's listing of world diseases that are the biggest killers. Then ask students to monitor media coverage of these diseases and infer why certain health threats receive more coverage than others.


Related Resources

Below are some sites that provide useful information related to this lesson's topic. The NOW site has additional Web site recommendations that may be of interest.

The Children's Vaccine Program
This site provides information on worldwide immunization needs and efforts.

Global Health Council
A thorough resource for infectious disease and global health information. The site also includes links to a number of related Web sites useful for research.

Health. A Key to Prosperity
This Web site provides health-related charts and success stories from underdeveloped countries, including those related to malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, childhood diseases, etc.

The Policy Project
This organization seeks "to achieve a more supportive policy environment for family planning/reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, and maternal health."

Reproductive Health Gateway
This site is a good source of information on reproductive health and population related issues.

Stop Tuberculosis
This site provides information on TB, images, prevention information, personal stories, and much more.

UNICEF — The Voices of Youth
This Web site offers students the opportunity to discuss world issues and connect with other students around the world. It is also a good resource for global health issues.

World Health Organization
This comprehensive site offers many resources on infectious disease and global health issues, including fact sheets, headlines, photographs, research tools, etc.


About the Author
Donna DeTommaso-Kleinert is an elementary physical education teacher at Hatfield Elementary School in the North Penn School District Lansdale, Pa. She has participated on the writing team for the Pennsylvania State Health and Physical Education Standards and coordinates and presents the new teacher induction program. She has been in the teaching profession for 20 years with experiences in elementary and secondary health and physical education and also as a learning coordinator of all the special area curricula. Presently she is enrolled in a curriculum and instruction program in the Department of Kinesiology at Temple University. Her proudest accomplishments have come from motherhood and marriage.



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