CGH selects students for independently geared global health research

In the Spring of 2016, the Center for Global Health awarded 6 students the Global Health Field Research Award to defray their travel costs as they pursue global health research projects in a low-to middle-income country. The GHFRA expects significant independence and leadership from each of these students, as well as a strong mentorship foundation with their faculty mentor (the project's principle investigator) under who's larger project their work falls.

Please join the Center in congratulating these students and their global health mentors on the receipt of the Global Health Field Research Award:

GHFRA Awardee Faculty Mentor Project Country

Jura Augustinavicius
PhD Candidate
Department of Mental Health, JHSPH

Judith Bass, PhD Empowering women in the context of poverty and HIV: The role of parenting self-efficacy in promoting child cognitive development Uganda

Vanessa Burrowes
PhD Candidate
Department of International Health, Global Disease Epidemiology & Control, JHSPH

Christine Marie George, PhD CHoBI7 Trial: A Hospital Based WASH Intervention for Households of Diarrheal Patients in Bangladesh Bangladesh
Avani Duggaraju
MSPH Candidate 2017
Department of International Health, Social and Behavioral Interventions, JHSPH
Sarah Beckham, PhD Women's Sanitation Vulnerabilities in Southern Tanzania Tanzania

Allison McFall
PhD Candidate
Department of Epidemiolgoy, JHSPH

Shruti Mehta, PhD Respondent driven sampling (RDS): From surveillance to a novel intervention among men who have sex with me and people who inject drugs in India India

Cristina Rodriguez-Hart
PhD Candidate
Department of Health Behavior and Society, JHSPH

Stefan Baral, MD A qualitative study to assess the relationship between stigma towards men who have sex with men in Nigeria and their mental health, sexual health, and access to health care Nigeria
Kwame Sakyi
PhD Candidate
Department of International Health, Social and Behavioral Interventions, JHSPH
Pamela Surkan, ScD Low Birth Weight, Preterm Birth and Maternal Retention in HIV Care Ghana

Looking towards the future, many of the awarded students seek to build a platform for global health careers and doctoral dissertations. Of the 2016 GHFRA awardees, three students have returned from their international field research. Of his time in Ghana working on the project "Low birth weight, preterm birth and maternal retention in HIV care," Kwame Sakyi wrote: 

The contours of my physical adjustment were not as deep as the emotional and intellectual adjustments I had to make. My research was on HIV. I wanted to learn how caring for low birth weight and preterm infants affected HIV-infected mothers in adhering to their anti-retroviral therapy drugs. This was my first HIV-related field work. I was used to talking to mothers about their newborns, a subject that often conjured joy in the mothers, but HIV was different.

Emotionally, I was unprepared for the tears mothers had when they talked about their HIV diagnosis; struck by how many of the mothers had not disclosed their HIV status to their partners, and how utterly numb some were when they heard that their baby was HIV positive. Intellectually, I didn’t understand why the unprecedented access to anti-retroviral therapy in Ghana, which has made HIV no longer a death sentence, had not trickled down to make HIV disclosure easier. Why should women in the 21st century still be afraid to tell their partners about their HIV status? Ethically, don’t the men deserve to know the partner’s HIV status? 

Read more of Kwame's reflections about his time in Ghana working on this HIV project here.

GHFRA winner, Allison McFall, conducted her work on "Respondent driven sampling (RDS): From surveillance to a novel intervention among men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs in India." Of her experiences working in India, Allison wrote: 

An important facet of global health that I learned during my GHFRA experience was the large number of people and effort it requires to implement a multi-site research study in an international setting. Questionnaire development, data analysis, and quality control/assurance is only a small part of the whole process. The NCA trial has a total of 22 sites (i.e., cities) across nearly all regions of India. This coordination needs smart and dedicated study staff including a very adept study manager that can effectively work with national and state governments as well as other non-governmental organizations. Buy-in from the government and other organizations means that this research is more likely to change how HIV-related healthcare is delivered to men who have sex with men (MSM) and people who inject drugs in India (PWID). The research findings are not the end goal - improving the health of MSM and PWID is.

Read Allison's full reflection about her research work in Chennai, India here

After returning from her GHFRA field work funding a project in Tororo, Uganda focuse on "Empowering women in the context of poverty and HIV: the role of partenting self-efficacy in promoting child cognitive development," Jura Augustinavicius wrote:

Living and working in a developing country was challenging in several ways. From a management perspective, finding my place within the organizational structure at the project site took some time. As with any new position, it can be challenging to figure out how to be helpful and meet project goals without stepping on anyone’s toes, particularly in the context of a pressing timeline. I found it helpful to listen to my colleagues and to learn about the organizational culture at the specific site where I was working and within the larger NGO. I quickly realized that I had unintentionally gone in with my own ideas of how best to accomplish the task at hand and I quickly learned that adopting the existing practices and routines already in place or combining these into a modified strategy would be much more efficient. Learning cultural cues that would tell me when I was on the right track and when I wasn’t also took some time. The bureaucracy at the hospital and at the university with whom we were working was challenging to navigate, and would have been impossible if it had not been for the help and guidance of the local team leader. I also found that engaging in self-care throughout the trip took persistence and a concerted effort. I had to consciously stop work and make time for exercise, sleep, and Skype calls home. Sometimes this required some creativity, and sometimes this pushed me out of my comfort zone. 

Read more of Jura's thoughts about her global health experience conducting research work in Uganda here. 

Learn more about the GHFRA program here! The next funding cycle for the 2017 year will open in early 2017.


Featured photographs:

1) Completion of qualitative research methods training of local team members in Tororo, Uganda | photo submitted by Jura Augustinavicius

2) Entering data after interivew | photo submitted by Kwame Sakyi, location Ghana. 

3) The staff of the community integrated care center (ICC) in Chandigarh, India. Care centers such as this are the intervention being assessed as a part of the National Collaboration on AIDS (NCA) trial. This center provides focused HIV-related care for people who inject drugs such as HIV testing and counseling, needle/syringe exchange, opiate agonist treatment, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and TB, and medical care and treatment for those HIV-infected. This ICC in Chandigarh sees almost 40 clients daily | Photo submitted by Allison McFall, location Chandigarh, Punjab, India.

4) Qualitative research team Tororo, Uganda | photo submitted by Jura Augustinavicius


August 2022



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