I’m a Tulane SPHTM ’12 graduate from the Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences Department. Following graduation, I spent a bit of time as an HIV study coordinator for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) trials among young men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. As career trajectories often do, circumstances took a turn and I spent the next three years working on fraud, waste, and abuse protections granted by the Affordable Care Act at The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (HHS-CMS). While these ventures were satisfying enough, I felt as though my time at Tulane specifically prepared me for a global health role and so I left the “safety” of federal government for an ASPPH/CDC Allan Rosenfield Global Health Fellowship position in Lusaka, Zambia (now called the PHI/CDC Global Health Fellowship).

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After completing a year with the CDC in Zambia, I am now living in Beijing with CDC-China and working hands-on with the ever-changing President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program (PEPFAR). Given that millions of individuals have already been tested, placed on treatment, and carry undetectable viral loads, this timing presents a unique opportunity to combine my psycho-social background with the MPH’s “hard skills” (such as monitoring & evaluation) to design sustainable programs targeting key populations. I’ve felt very fortunate to be “working toward an AIDS-free generation” by implementing sustainable programs in partnership with the Zambian or Chinese governments specifically as it relates to MSM, sex workers, and injection drug users (as they are the most high-risk for HIV/AIDS yet historically under-served populations). I’m very thankful to Tulane SPHTM’s professors who contributed in shaping my path to where I am today.

Changemaker Catalyst Award Recipient Madeleine Nicholson completed her practicum research in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with World Vision International. As an international health and development student in the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, Madeleine  focused her field practice on the country’s high rates of child malnutrition.  

In early June 2017, I hopped on a plane to Phnom Penh, Cambodia to complete my Master of Public Health (MPH) practicum requirement with World Vision International. Over the course of 10 weeks, I worked under Dr. David Raminashvili in World Vision’s Health and Nutrition department. From community participation policy analysis to breast-milk substitute research to nutrition experimental trial data collection, I was able to immerse myself in many different aspects of global health and community-based programming under the guidance of an organization that knows it well.

Within my first week on the job, I traveled to Kampong Speu province to observe a community mobilization meeting of local Village Health Volunteers (VHVs). The meeting was conducted in the national language of Khmer, so my coworker Bong Sopheap translated the VHVs’ plans for community mapping and health education.

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Several weeks later, I traveled north to Preah Vihear province for several days of observations and program implementations. I missed our first Area Program (AP) Office visit in Chhaeb due to illness. But after some rehydration, I jumped in to visit the Chey Saen AP and Sangkum Thmey AP offices as well as their associated village projects the rest of the week. World Vision is working to implement Positive Deviance/Hearth, or SKL (an acronym in Khmer). SKL seeks to fight Cambodia’s high rates of child malnutrition with nutrition education sessions and cooking demonstrations. The classes provide caregivers with the capacity to sustainably prepare and serve nutrient-dense meals for their children. Weighing sessions take place regularly to monitor the weight gain of participating children as well as caregivers’ adoption of healthy cooking behaviors.

At the end of July and early August, I accompanied the team for nearly two weeks in Cambodia’s second largest city, Siem Reap, made famous for the ancient temples of Angkor Wat nearby. We spent our days training local enumerators to collect endline data for the Funky Foods experimental trial. Funky Foods seeks to combat malnutrition using easily accessible supplements made from crickets and moringa plants. Caregivers were instructed to provide their children with meals cooked with these powders, which provide substantial amounts of protein, magnesium, iron, and other nutrients not present in rice, the country’s most prevalent food. We took a weekend break to explore some wildlife and temples before returning again the next week to assist in the collection of blood and stool samples. Another intern and I were responsible for cleaning the data using statistical software and reporting back to the project managers.

When the work was done, my team returned to Phnom Penh while I stayed behind an extra weekend on my own to explore the ancient temples and run the Angkor Wat Half Marathon.

While these adventures in the field are exciting, most of my days with World Vision were spent in the national office pouring over policies, reports, and data in the glow of my laptop. I assisted my Khmer coworkers in developing and adapting IQA (Implementation Quality Assurance) tools for several project models to best serve our Cambodian context. I conducted literature review of LQAS (Lot Quality Assurance Sampling) for the monitoring of a new health program and even created a user-friendly manual for program managers to implement the sampling protocol. I researched and analyzed Cambodia’s current breast-milk substitute policies as well as various misleading marketing violations being committed by formula companies, which hinder breastfeeding and nutrition efforts. (You can find my report on this research published on World Vision’s site here). I did a lot of other jargon-filled public health activities in my time here, but mostly, I learned – about health, about history, about culture and connection – from some of the kindest coworkers in the field.

With the approval from my World Vision and Tulane advisor, I decided to extend my stay and internship past my practicum’s end date to gain more global health experience. I surprised my family back home in Chicago on Thanksgiving Day, rounding out nearly six months away – studying, learning, exploring, and eating too much rice in beautiful Cambodia.

I feel so grateful for the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking not just for the Changemaker Catalyst Award, but in many ways for this incredible learning opportunity. It was through Taylor’s “Taylor Your Life” course with Ms. Julia Lang that I learned the skills necessary to confidently network and connect with established professionals in my field. Using these skills, I was able to reach out to a distant connection working for World Vision here in Phnom Penh. She then connected me with Dr. David, the health & nutrition technical lead and my supervisor.

With my MPH complete, I am excited to begin an internship with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Food and Agriculture team this winter and spring.

Taylor’s mission: TAYLOR cultivates a diverse learning community of Changemakers who use their skills, humility, expertise, gifts, and power to affirm the humanity of all people in the pursuit of a more just, sustainable, and equitable society. Our university-wide initiatives are globally-aware, community-oriented, and interdisciplinary. Our programs are grounded in the teaching, research, and practices of design thinking, social entrepreneurship, and social innovation.

Changemaker Catalyst Award: The Changemaker Catalyst Fund is open to all undergraduate and graduate Tulane University students interested in pursuing opportunities related to social innovation, social entrepreneurship, design thinking, and changemaking. Students are eligible for up to $1,500 over the course of their studies to support learning in relevant fields. This award is an opportunity to learn from and work collaboratively with effective changemakers and allies to better understand problems.

 

For years now, Tulane public health alumni across the globe have referred to themselves as the “Tulane mafia,” since no matter where they go, Tulane alumni and faculty seem to be there. Unlike other mafias, however, this one is all about improving health – a mafia for good!

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Several members of one branch of the Tulane mafia recently reconnected in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Dr. Jane Bertrand, Neal A. and Mary Vanselow Endowed Chair and professor of Global Health Management and Policy (GHMP), leads a strong team in Kinshasa working on family planning in the region and served as a central focus for the gathering of like-minded students, faculty, and alumni.

The gathering included:

  • Talubezie (“Talu”) Kasongo, (MSPH TRMD ’13)
  • Annie Glover (doctoral candidate, GHMP)
  • Saleh Babazadeh, (doctoral candidate, GHMP)
  • Dr. Julie Hernandez (research assistant professor, GHMP)
  • Dr. Bill Bertrand (professor, Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences)
  • Dr. Jane Bertrand (professor, GHMP)
  • Daisy Duru-Iheoma (MPH GCHB ’12)
  • Sarah Bellotti (MSW ’13 – DRLA program)

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—Dee Boling

 

Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine is actively engaged in public health research and training programs in Latin America, and the Health Office for Latin America (HOLA) in Lima, Peru is the home base for many of these programs. Valerie Paz-Soldan, PhD, Associate Professor of Global Community Health & Behavioral Sciences (GCHB), serves as the Director of HOLA or the “Lima Office” as it is commonly known.

HOLA 3_Paz-soldan_ChaparroDr. Paz-Soldan and Dr. Richard Oberhelman, Professor and Chair of GCHB, together with a dedicated international research staff, have mentored over 40 trainees from undergraduates to post-docs, from the United States, Peru, and other countries, since the office opened in its current location in 2012. Besides serving as home base in Peru for several NIH-funded training grants, HOLA faculty and staff are involved in many community based research projects on a wide range of topics, including control of insect vector-borne diseases (e.g. using behavioral economic principles to increase community participation in spraying to reduce reduviid bug populations and prevent Chagas Disease), One Health (examining the impact of a new asphalted Inter-Oceanic Highway through the biodiverse Madre de Dios region on abundance and composition of rodent communities), and cancer prevention (evaluating a sustainable screen-and-treat cervical cancer prevention program appropriate for tropical areas of Peru). Many Tulane MPH students have found exciting practicum opportunities working with HOLA faculty and staff.

 

 

Did you know there were different forms of human trafficking that happen in the United States? For my practicum this summer, I was introduced to a world that has become a part of my developing mission to improve the lives of women through public health, public service, and advocacy. Eden House New Orleans is a non-profit organization that provides in-house services to women who were victims of human trafficking and commercial sex exploitation. I chose Eden House as a practicum site to work with an underserved population of women and learn how public health practices in their program help them heal and become empowered.

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The women of Eden House receive services through their two-year in-house program. Throughout that time, they develop skills that will allow them to become self-sufficient once they graduate from the program. As one of the resident support interns, my primary responsibility was to assist program staff with various resident needs. I was tasked with accompanying residents to their various appointments, supporting them while there and in the house, working on research projects, and developing projects to give the residents new skills they could use after the program finished.

My practicum was split into two responsibilities: creating a new resident activity and conducting research. As part of Eden House’s Health Initiative, the residents and I collaborated on healthy cooking classes to teach them healthy recipes, how to manage healthy eating under a budget, and community engagement. After I created a recipe for their lunch, the residents gathered together to cook the recipe and eat as a community. They provided me weekly feedback to tell me which recipes they enjoyed and which recipes they would like to try for the following week.

The research project, given to me from the executive director, explored the connection between missing black women and girls and their possible involvement in sex trafficking. The project culminated from the national coverage of the missing black and latinx girls in DC and the lack of attention being paid to the overwhelming number of black and latinx persons who go missing every year. I used qualitative and quantitative information to draw a connection between the statistics of black women and girls who go missing nationally every year and the black women and girls who are victims of human/sex trafficking.

As a rising public health professional, I enjoyed being able to use my knowledge from the classroom, along with my own personal experiences, in my activities at my practicum. I didn’t realize how much I would utilize my skills and public health knowledge, but at Eden House my responsibilities allowed for me to understand what it meant to be a public health professional. I have come to love program planning and implementation, as well as conducting quantitative research. The practicum at Eden House not only allowed me to contribute to their program, but I also gained new skills and knowledge. The hardest lesson was learning how to communicate effectively and carefully around the residents. Because these women were essentially powerless in the trafficking experiences, they were testing the power of autonomy and what it meant to make their own decisions. I had an overall excellent experience at Eden House New Orleans and will continue to support their work to bring awareness about human trafficking and commercial sex exploitation.

—Jordan Mosely-Stephens

 

I never realized how different western healthcare systems could be from the rest of the world until I went to China. Everyone was so friendly and excited to tell us about their culture, healthcare, and day to day lives. Due to this program I have decided to look for international opportunities after graduating, as I feel that simply talking to people in different places is one of the easiest ways to learn.

—Margarida Dalton