Global Health Travel Blog

UNC Gillings students share their global field experiences around the world.

Month: May 2019

FAMLI already feels like FAMILY

As we walked through the UNC Women’s hospital doors last week, we were excited to be back in the clinical setting, but this time in a different capacity, as interns on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded Fetal Age and Machine Learning Initiative (FAMLI).

The Fetal Age and Machine Learning Initiative is a collaborative project being conducted by the UNC Global Women’s Health Division, NC State University and the University of Zambia School of Medicine. The overarching goal of the project is to develop a robust, inexpensive, widely deployable ultrasound device that can assess gestational age and other important obstetric conditions while requiring minimal operator skills.

We were welcomed by our preceptor and a friendly team of sonographers and researchers.

L-R: Dr. Rosenbaum (Preceptor), Munguu, Enam, Arieska (Sonographer) and Stephanie (Research Assistant)

L-R: Dr. Rosenbaum (Preceptor), Munguu, Enam, Arieska (Sonographer) and Stephanie (Research Assistant)

This summer, as interns, we will be contributing to this project by annotating ultrasound images that can be used to train machine learning algorithms to correctly assess gestational age and other diagnoses. Our experience will enable us to learn to properly identify and annotate ultrasound images of fetal parts, and assist in building a system that will help future annotators learn similar skills and perform the annotation tasks consistently.

Enam practicing reading ultrasounds.

Enam practicing reading ultrasounds.

Finally, we say this feels like family because we have a unique advantage of meeting with the team both in-person and virtually, and participating on conference calls that involves a diverse interprofessional team such as clinicians (OB/GYN, RN, sonographer), research staff (research assistants, managers), data managers, financiers (Gates Foundation), and collaborators (engineers and N.C. State and Google).

Watch out for future blog posts focusing on the second part of our internship where we get to travel and meet the team all in the way in Lusaka, Zambia!

-Enam and Munguu

Geneva, Switzerland!

Pont du Mont Blanc, Bridge Crossing Lake Geneva.

Greetings from Geneva, Switzerland! This summer my practicum is with the headquarters of the Migration Health Division (MHD) at the International Organization for Migration (IOM). It has been an eye-opening experience as I get the phenomenal opportunity to learn and contribute daily to the formulation of institutional policy, guidelines and strategy, quality-control, and oversight of migration health services globally. The health services conducted aim to meet the needs of States in managing health-related aspects of migration, and to promote evidence-based policies and integration of preventive and curative health programs that are beneficial, accessible and equitable for vulnerable migrants and mobile populations.

IOM Headquarters

Since my first week being here, which was last week, I have had the opportunity to assist with planning and implementing a three-day intensive Global Health Training for internal and external partners of the division. The training was conducted to inform and build a better understanding about ongoing policy developments and start thinking of strategic priorities the MHD would like to focus on in the years to come to address migrant health. In addition to assisting with the training, I am in the process of working on a policy brief on international health worker migration with my preceptor. This policy brief is a joint effort between IOM and the World Health Organization, and I have the honor of working on the first draft. In all, I am super excited about what is still yet to come while interning with IOM through the end of July.

If you are interested in learning more about the leading inter-governmental organization of migration, check out the short yet concise video below.

-Fatima Guerrab

Oh the places Gillings School students are going!

We are back for another summer of blogging!

We have 14 students blogging from 10 countries! Thanks to generous donors,  these students received travel funds to put what they’ve learned in the classroom into practice.

Follow our blog this summer to hear firsthand from our students about what they are working on and how their global experiences are going!

Now an introduction to our new bloggers and their thanks to donors for the opportunity to receive funding for their global practicum:

Hunter Davis – Exploring the social and emotional impact of living with Type 2 diabetes  among adults in the Galapagos

“I’m so excited to be using this funding to return to a country where I have spent a formative part of my life and made so many friends and connections. I have lived in the Amazon of Ecuador, the Andes, and now will be able to live in the Galapagos for a time. Ecuador is one of my passions, and I’m so grateful that thanks to the Global Practice Award I am able to continue learning about a new part of the country and culture I have grown to love. This has also allowed me to work with an incredible research team and learn from Dr. Clare Barrington, an expert in qualitative research, about the process and expectations for qualitative research.”

Fatima Guerrab – International Organization for Migration in Switzerland

“Being selected for a Global Practice Award has opened up many doors and removed many barriers. With these funds, I will be able to work with a leading United Nations agency and learn how to tackle the most pressing policy challenges on a global scale.”

Krista Scheffey – UNC-Wits-Right to Care Partnership for Cervical Cancer Prevention in South Africa

“This funding is incredibly helpful. There are a lot of upfront costs associated with going to South Africa, and knowing that I have this funding is hugely helpful as I make those preparations. Receiving funding has also helped me focus on being a student without worrying about financing my practicum. For a while I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go abroad, but ultimately I was able to choose a practicum that really aligned with my interests. I’m grateful for ​financial support to pursue this opportunity.”

Nicole Gonzalez – Health Future Program in China

“I feel really lucky to be selected for the Global Practice Award. My practicum would not have been possible without this funding. I would have had to take out loans if I did want to pursue this practicum. It’s definitely really helpful. I’ve always wanted to work in Asia, and it’s one of my careers goals. This is really meaningful and I feel privileged to have been awarded this money.”

Kay Schaffer – Curamericas Global in Guatemala

“Being able to work and travel abroad is really a privilege and having this financial support is going to enable me to do that. Working abroad in public health is something I’ve seen colleagues do and has been a dream of mine to actually get to do myself. This money is really meaningful to me and is going to make this experience possible. I’m excited for my practicum, as maternal mortality prevention has been an interest of mine, but getting to see how it is practiced in the field with vulnerable populations from different cultural backgrounds is going to be really informative to my education and allow me to bring best practices back to the Chapel Hill community.”

Yovania Dechtiar – Gender Links in Mauritius

“Receiving this funding is an incredible opportunity for me as it allows me to give back to my home country! I am excited to go back home and to use knowledge and skills that I developed in recent years and learn how to adapt them within the context of Mauritius. I will be working with Gender Links, an NGO that strongly advocates for the advancement of women. I left Mauritius since I was 18, mostly oblivious of the challenges that women face. As I have grown and developed into a woman myself within the North American context, I have often reflected on what being a woman means within the Mauritian context. I am especially grateful that the funding will allow me to better understand the realities of the Mauritian women and contribute to her advancement.”

Dana Corbett – Curamericas Global in Kenya

Dana Corbett“When I found out that I received the Global Practice Award to support my practicum, I felt an enormous amount of relief! I am so grateful for the generosity of funders so that I can prepare for and fully embrace my practicum in Kenya without being overly-concerned about finances.”

Erin Case – Save the Children in Washington, D.C.

“Receiving the Global Practice Award for my practicum with Save the Children allows me the space to truly focus on my work rather than worrying about working a second job. Knowing that I have the funding means I can put all of my energy into my work, take on additional projects, and professional development opportunities at Save the Children that will help me build towards the career that I want.”

Emily Berns – Curamericas Global in Guatemala

“Receiving the Global Practice Award is a major support and encouragement in accepting a practicum that excites me, develops a variety of public health skills, and offers the privilege of collaborating in new community and cultural contexts. It shows how the school and alumni value our opportunities and ambitions to engage in meaningful global health work.”

Casey Watters – National University of Ireland – Galway, Health Promotion Research Centre & WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Promotion in Ireland

“Receiving the Global Practice Award is incredibly meaningful. It has allowed me the opportunity to focus on my work in adolescent mental health while gathering the necessary quantitative evaluation skills for my continued career in global public health—and I couldn’t do that without this incredibly generous funding.”

UNC Gillings Zambia Hub students:

Gillings Global Hubs are meant to increase students’ skills, faculty opportunities and the Gillings School’s impact.  A consistent presence at particular sites, working with a select group of partners, allows us to provide quality experiences and deliver on strategic themes to improve public health. We are pleased to have the first cohort of students in the Zambia Hub this summer and blogging!

(L-R) Munguu, Enam, Taylor, and Rebekah

(L-R) Munguu, Enam, Taylor, and Rebekah

Enam Aidam – Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Lusaka, Zambia

“This practicum grants me the unique opportunity to meet, work and learn from the amazing team of researchers, clinicians and technicians working to advance women’s health in Zambia and other low and middle income countries. Additionally, I will benefit from their guidance and mentorship to publish what will be my first scientific paper!”

Taylor Craig – Lusaka, Zambia

“I am so excited to live in Zambia this summer and work on a cost-effectiveness analysis for the Improving Pregnancy Outcomes with Progesterone Study within the Zambia Hub. I am grateful for this wonderful opportunity and I am looking forward to all I will learn.”

Munguntsetseg Khuyag-Ochir – Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Lusaka, Zambia

“I am so excited to be an intern in the Zambia Hub FAMLI project this summer. I think  the Zambia FAMLI project will help me gain real-life maternal and child health practical experience in a global setting. I am sure that interning in the Mothers and Newborn hospital in Lusaka, Zambia will be a great experience for me to learn about challenges and solutions of global maternal and child health problems. I have two goals this summer. First, to gain more knowledge about implementation science and management skills of global public health programs. Hopefully, I will have opportunities to explore more about Gates Foundation projects. Second, I wish to improve inter-professional communication and collaboration skills, which are main competencies of a MPH degree. I am sure that during this internship I can strengthen these skills from senior public health, medical and other professionals in the Zambia Hub.”

Rebekah Daniel – Lusaka, Zambia

“This past semester I have delved deeper in exploring HIV prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) interventions and am extremely excited to apply my background knowledge and course work in this topic in a real-world setting. Additionally, since I have an interest in monitoring and evaluation (M&E) work, being able to hop on board during the process stage of the Methods for Prevention Packages Program (MP3) has allowed me to monitor and review validated data collection instruments which are a great way for me to begin applying the M&E skills I hope to foster as a public health professional. Last but not least, I am truly excited to be in Lusaka, Zambia this summer! There is always something so invigorating and eye-opening when you leave your comfort zone and step into a setting you may not be as familiar with!”