Swen, Melody

School of Arts and Sciences



Knowledge Generation, Synthesis and Translation (Tobacco Control - Bangladesh)

The Intern will work with the Bangladesh Center for Communication Programs under the supervision of the Director, Mohammad Shahjahan, to support the implementation of a range of tobacco control activities, including, but not necessarily limited to: The development and conduct of capacity building workshops on strategic communication, message design and community mobilization; documenting evidence-based tobacco control success stories with a view towards developing related journal publications;  enhancing the Bangladesh Tobacco Control Research Network; and, working with Government in rolling out its strategic plans for tobacco control in Bangladesh.                                                           

Global Health Mentor: Stephen Tamplin, Associate Scientist, HBS

My experience at Bangladesh Center for Communications Program was centered on Tobacco Control Research and Education. My scope of work included attending different conferences, data monitoring, and field reports.

A couple hours after I stepped off the plane in Bangladesh, I was swept off to my first rally experience in lieu of World Tobacco Day, the theme of which was “Stop Illicit Trade”. This was my first time marching in a rally of any sorts, and it was exciting to experience the energetic and enthusiastic atmosphere. Seeing the sheer amount of people that were involved to make the event happen was encouraging. I also enjoyed seeing all the organizations in Dhaka committed to the bettering of public health. It was also my first introduction to the humidity of Bangladesh.  Before the conference began, they showed different examples of graphic images to be used on tobacco packaging to warn consumers, and a short film in Bangla as well. It was eye-opening for me to see the media-based methods of tobacco control used in Bangladesh.

From June 9-12, I visited Sylhet with Dr. Nazul, Shamim-bai, and Poresh-bai as a part of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Bangladesh Center for Communications Tobacco Control Project. The purpose of the trip was to organize a symposium, called “Learning from the experts: A Course for Healthcare Professionals” and to monitor field data collection activities of the research grantees. On June 10, we organized the symposium, which aimed to promote IGTC’s online course developed for all healthcare professions, including doctors, teachers, students, and nurses. The symposium was held at the Sylhet Osmani Medical College, and about 100 participants were in attendance. Dr. Nazul talked about the Tobacco Epidemic and Its Health Effects and the roles of healthcare professionals in this issue. there was also a web-based demonstration of the course. Often, I feel like e-courses are easily overlooked in real-life contexts, because there are so many of them. I felt that a conference devoted to the explanation of an e-course is sure to ensure a higher rate of completion and application in the field.

With the tobacco control research grantee program, I was able to get a firsthand look at the preliminary stages of data preparation and processing. Previously, my SPSS experience was primarily with data cleaning and value manipulation. The grantees are in the process of doing field data collection, and I worked with the research team to do some questionnaire format checking. Thanks to Forzhana appa and Miraz bai, I became more familiar with how to define and describe variables. It was interesting to see how researchers adapted their questionnaires to a statistical format, and I feel more prepared to do the same in the future, when I conduct my own research study.

For one of the grantees, I had the opportunity to visit the field site where the data was being collected. This particular study was on Smokeless Tobacco Consumption and Diabetic Foot Ulcer, as conducted by Dr. Sharmin Khanam. The questionnaire was focused on tobacco use habit, type, duration, frequency, sociodemographic characteristics, diabetic foot ulcer duration, and glycemic status. At the hospital, the patients are waiting to see the doctor and get their dressings redone. The data collection consisted of face to face interview as the patients are waiting for the doctor, and a review of medical records. After observing the data collector and looking over the filled questionnaires, Rahul-bai and I concluded that the quality of the data collection was good.

My main project was to review research by a previous grantee in 2014 that is being submitted as a manuscript done for a research journal. I will give a brief overview of the research, data, and a discussion of the statistical findings. I had the opportunity to study the figures and tables and determine which were relevant to include in the manuscript.

I feel very blessed by my experience, as I was able to see how each step of the epidemiological method is applied in Bangladesh. I was able to study an existing problem, observe the collection of data, define the epidemiological factors attributing to these events, and study the patterns and trends. I want to especially thank the BCCP staff for helping me learn and grow. 


October 2020



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