Global Problems Global Solutions

Global Problems, Global Solutions 2017 Conference

Keynote Address: "Health Care: An Issue of Social Justice?"

Jim Withers, M.D., will present "Health Care: An Issue of Social Justice?" on Thursday, Nov. 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the Zappala College Center Square.

Dr. Withers received his undergraduate degree at Haverford College and completed his medical school training at the University of Pittsburgh in 1984. His interest in service-oriented medicine grew through medical trips to Central America and India. 

After finishing his medicine and chief residencies at The Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh, he joined the full-time teaching faculty in the Department of Internal Medicine. His areas of special interest have been domestic violence, wilderness medicine, international medicine and homeless health care. 

In 1992 Dr. Withers founded Operation Safety Net (OSN), the first full-time, comprehensive medical service of its kind for the unsheltered homeless. Medical care is delivered directly on the streets, along the river banks and in the abandoned buildings of Pittsburgh, with full social service and housing follow-up. OSN has been recognized internationally and is being replicated or studied by cities throughout the world.  

In 2005 Dr. Withers established the annual International Street Medicine Symposia (with current partners in North America, South and Central America, Africa, Australia, Europe and Asia) to foster collaboration in the care of those sleeping on the streets. There are now more than 100 street medicine programs globally. In 2009 he created the Street Medicine Institute to focus on helping communities establish Street Medicine programs, improve existing practice and create student learning opportunities in Street Medicine.

Dr. Withers is Medical Director of Operation Safety Net within the Pittsburgh Mercy (part of the Trinity Health System) and on the teaching faculty at UPMC Mercy Hospital, as well as clinical assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.He enjoys numerous volunteer activities, board memberships and medical teaching appointments.

About Global Problems, Global Solutions

Global Problems, Global Solutions is a free, annual conference. La Roche leads and co-sponsors the conference with local colleges, universities and nonprofits known for their global activism.

This year the Global Problems, Global Solutions conference will discuss progress, plans and initiatives related to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Established in September 2015, the new sustainable development agenda seeks to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.

    Dedicated to promoting justice and peace in a constantly changing global society, La Roche supports the U.N. in working to make these goals a reality in Pittsburgh and throughout the global marketplace.

    Previous Keynote Speakers

    • Richard V. Piacentini, Executive Director of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
    • Maureen A. Dunn, Division chief of the office of policy and strategy at U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services 
    • Robert C. Gallo, MD, Co-Discoverer of HIV Causing AIDS 
    • Former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill 
    • Pulitzer Prize Winner Sheryl WuDunn 
    • Deputy Secretary of USAID, Ambassador Donald Steinberg 

    Contact Assistant Director of Global Engagement Emily Markham at 412-536-1215 or