Panchal, Janaki

School of Public Health



Formative research for an innovative concept for insecticide-treated

This field placement supports the first phase of a project that will test a novel approach to the marketing of insecticide treated bed nets (ITNs) for malaria prevention: positioning bed nets as a lifestyle-enhancing product rather than just a disease-prevention product. Specifically, we seek to determine whether residents of selected urban and rural areas of Uganda are willing to purchase ITNs branded with logos of their favorite football teams and/or images of their favorite players. The goal for this field placement is to gather preliminary data sufficient to justify a larger-scale trial and secure funding to carry it out.

To accomplish this, we will analyze existing secondary data and collect new qualitative and quantitative data. This data will provide the basis for a peer-reviewed article describing the potential market for football-branded ITNs, a business plan, and funding proposals to several potential funders. The project represents a collaboration between faculty at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Carey Business School. 
Both anecdotal experience and existing market research data demonstrate a strong following for football in many African countries including Uganda. Football is already strongly linked with malaria as a result of an extensive malaria prevention campaign – including a campaign to increase ITN use – carried out during and since the World Cup tournament in South Africa in 2010. Marketing of football-branded ITNs is a natural outgrowth of this link. However, while some high level marketing data exists about sports- and entertainment-related spending in various African countries, there is little or no information that describe the details of this market. This placement will help fill the information gap.

Global Health Mentor/PI: Steven Harvey, PhD

I arrived in Uganda not knowing what to expect. Although I had discussed expectations with my PI prior to the trip, arriving in a new continent that I had never been to before was exciting and nerve-wrecking at the same time. But without hesitation I can say that it has been one of the best experiences of my life. I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to work abroad, especially in a low and middle income country; however, after spending 6 months in Uganda, I am 100% certain that I would like to pursue a career in global health.

My research project gave me an opportunity to collaborate with local partner organizations in Uganda and understand differences and similarities in the nature of public health practices, which I was completely unaware of prior to arriving there. It really gave me a chance to get out of my comfort zone and assimilate with people who had a very different working style than the Americans. It taught me how to stay flexible, tolerant and respectful of the different cultural and work values when interacting with people from different backgrounds. At the same time, I also learned the challenges and advantages of working in a low-resourced setting.

Although going from a fast-paced life and work environment in the U.S. to extremely laid back and relaxed work style in Uganda proved quite challenging initially, I quickly learn to adapt to the work pace and take advantage of the extra time. While I was waiting for local IRB approval for my study, my local supervisor allowed me to help on another ongoing project that required supervision. I was able to travel all around Uganda with one another co-worker, visit almost all the districts, and explore differing cultural and social norms and beliefs. The two weeks we spent in the field was undoubtedly, one of the most unexpected and best experiences I had in Uganda. Along with viewing the urban lifestyle of these districts, I also got to see some villages and rural life in every district. It helped me learn about varied practices in each district, and really immerse myself in the Ugandan culture.

Another crucial aspect of exploring and really enjoying my stay in Uganda (which I absolutely recommend to all the students going abroad for their practicums) was learning the local language, Luganda. Although I am not nearly fluent in the language, but learning some of basics like greetings, introductions, numbers, and some workplace phrases made it easier to break barriers with people, especially in rural regions. I noticed that when I introduced myself in the local language to people, they were more welcoming and willing to talk to me. I had a really wonderful time learning the language and practicing it with my co-workers!

Overall, this opportunity has helped me grow tremendously as a person, as a researcher and a public health professional. I have learned to become more resilient and culturally competent! I am very thankful for this wonderful opportunity, and I definitely feel well prepared to move my career forward in the global health arena!


October 2020



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