School of Public Health
Nigeria - Evaluation of a portable ultrasound program roll out
The project will examine the validity of maternal recall of nutritional interventions (iron folate supplementation, nutrition education messages) in antenatal care visits for pregnant women. The study will ask questions about nutritional interventions in pregnancy used by DHS and MICS surveys and compare the recalled answers to prospectively collected gold standard observations in rural Sarlahi district, Nepal. This will allow us to assess whether women can accurately recall nutritional interventions received during pregnancy during surveys conducted up to 2 years after pregnancy. The study is part of the Improving Coverage Measures (IMC) project.
Global Health PI/Mentor: Joanne Katz
For my practicum I traveled to Nepal to work with the “Nepal Nutrition Intervention Project- Sarlahi” team on two projects. I spent the majority of my time in the capital city, Kathmandu, and spent one week at the main field site office in the Sarlahi district of Nepal, which is located in the South near the border with India. Initially, my primary focus was on the “Monitoring demographic trends in low- and middle-income countries from mobile phone” study, which was led by the Principal Investigator Dr. Stephen Helleringer and Co-Investigator Dr. Joanne Katz. This primary aim of this study is to determine if cellphone metadata (information about the time, location and network of calls, texts and money transfers) can be used to identify births and deaths within a population. Once in Nepal, I also provided support for “The maternal recall of iron folate supplementation validation study/ coverage validation study 2” led by Dr. Joanne Katz as part of the larger Coverage Validation Study (CVS) led by Dr. Melinda Munos. For both projects prepare the necessary documentation for IRB submission (data collection instruments, consent forms, etc), training materials and the manuals of operations. Additionally, I aided with defining the sampling populations in both trials by determining the relevant prevalence rates and distributions from previously collected data. My practicum allowed me to apply the methods I’ve learned and gain experience completing tasks that are not taught in class. Furthermore, I was able to observe the work necessary before a trial begins during the week I spent in Sarlahi. I observed Dr. Katz and a post-doctoral student Dr. Tsering Pema Lama conduct training and facilitate discussions with the trial staff about study logistics. Additionally, I went with the trial staff to do formative research on antenatal care and cellphone ownership in the area, which was conducted through interviews with providers and group discussions with Sarlahi residents.
Left: Patan Dhoka, the entrance to the Patan Durbar Square area near where I was living. Right: Patan Durbar Square
Equally as important as the work aspect of the practicum is the opportunity to live abroad. I lived on the first floor of the NNIPS office building, which has housed Hopkins students for many years during their practicum experiences. Usually there are multiple students staying at the office, but because the organization is in between active trials I was the only student there during my practicum. My biggest piece of advice to students traveling abroad for their practicum is to take every opportunity to go exploring, meet new people and embrace new experiences. I joined intramural teams to meet new people and said yes to all sorts of activities; a full moon concert, an international film fest, accompanying my boss to the religious ceremony for Bhai tika and many day adventures to monasteries, temples and national parks. I also was fortunate enough to have time to do a five-day trek through the Annapurna region of the Himalayas; if you are able to take time for longer excursions I highly suggest it. It’s also extremely important to learn about the culture of where you’re living prior to your arrival to avoid committing any cultural faux pas and to best ease into living your day to day life in the community.
Machhapuchhre mountain at sunrise, taken at ~4200m during my trek