In response to the call to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child, October 11th, 2013. Being a global citizen and a patriotic Malawian, celebrating the 11th of October meant a lot to me. I love the themes that cut across the celebration like that of UNICEF, the World Bank, Every Child, Plan International, The Girl Effect, UN Women, Camfed, the Global Fund for Women, and many more.
Author Archives: Global Health Corps Fellow
A great deal has changed since the World Health Organization first came up with the idea of World AIDS day in 1987. An HIV-diagnosis is no longer a death sentence, HIV-positive mothers can give birth to HIV-negative babies, and discordant couples can have fulfilling and healthy long-term relationships. However, despite these gains, there’s still a lot of work do. World AIDS Day is a powerful reminder of how far we’ve come, but also of the long and challenging road that remains before us.
As a current Global Health Corps (GHC) fellow, I was fortunate to attend the 2013 International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) last week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, jointly organized by the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia and the Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health. With a theme of “Full Access, Full Choice,” I was consistently inspired and challenged in attending presentations by researchers, political figures, advocates, youth, donors, and implementing organizations all fighting together for the health and rights of women and girls. It is evident that continued commitment is needed to address the estimated quarter of all women globally desiring to control pregnancy but not using contraception. ICFP Venue – African Union Headquarters ICFP Theme – “Full Access, Full Choice” One method of ensuring sustained commitment for a healthier and more just future is building leaders of tomorrow. So, ICFP intentionally and heavily involved youth in the conference via several methods, including a two-day Youth Pre-Conference that focused on highlighting young voices, building skills, and empowering the next generation of leaders in family planning
When settling into a new country, one must go through a process, if you may, in order to adapt to his or her new surroundings. Moves aren’t easy, but as humans we’re wired to acclimate to our surroundings for survival. It’s been two months since I started my fellowship here in Uganda, and it’s been quite the journey. I’ve been faced with some difficulties and hard times, but having three other co-fellows by my side makes things much easier.
Before joining Global Health Corps, I worked for two years in Washington, D.C. as a strategy consultant. In my role, I evaluated market conditions for business and product development and supported the formation of M&A strategies. In doing so, I brainstormed ideas, constructed models, drafted documents, and delivered presentations to clients. After delivering the final presentation, our work was largely done; it was up to the client to evaluate and operationalize our recommendations
During the past couple of weeks my co-fellow Lindsey and I have been working on our organization’s M&E narrative and technical reports for 2013 quarter 2. Time and time again, we come across the word “cohort.” Cohort could be the most used word in Malawi’s HIV/AIDS program. The program has five different areas with tons of cohorts, which make it very difficult to make sense which cohort is which, or what the word really means. Over the weeks, I have referred back to my dictionary but the definition always remains the same – “A cohort is a group of people who are around the same age, like a cohort of college students who have similar experiences and concerns.” When I first entered this fellowship, a word was the least of my concerns considering our backgrounds; Lindsey, a biomedical engineer and me, a student of environmental health.
Having basically spent most of my life in Uganda, one of the items that has always been on my bucket list has been to explore places of wilderness, including various small communities located in rural settings across the country. For those who are visiting Africa and Uganda in particular for the first time, it is important to realize that the country is still in its infancy. You have to be willing to constantly adjust your expectations because you can be guaranteed that things will just happen. During my exploration, the lessons I learned about gaining new insights will definitely be beneficial to any leader or aspiring leader. The following testimonies have brought me to the point where I am today as a Global Health Corps Fellow working with the USAID/SDS program as Program Manager
As the saying goes, “My future, I can change, but for my past I have no say about it.” What came to me as a distant dream, today I see; I am a GHC Fellow, working with people committed to social justice and health equity. As we walk through the journey of life, how I wish we were able to tell the twists and turns ahead; for a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. This is how far I have come, though I am not sure of what tomorrow holds. While in school, particularly upper primary and lower secondary, my attitude towards my academics and examinations was simply to pass them and put myself in a favorable position for a white collar job. One may wonder what a white collar job is.
As a sophomore in college, I changed my major to social work, declaring that “I just want to work with people.” Not formulas and theories – just real, live people. I rejoiced at the math-free curriculum and loved my direct-practice internships in refugee resettlement and school social work. But somewhere along the way my thinking started to shift. As I became more involved in social work (and later, public health) I understood the importance of the evaluation systems, metrics, and yes, formulas and theories that underpin this work.
I’ve been at my fellowship placement in Lusaka for nearly five weeks, and there is a consistent theme that comes up in every meeting, assignment, and conversation we have: impact. My co-workers and I are constantly asking ourselves: What is our impact? How do we measure it? And, perhaps most importantly, how do we make it bigger? I’ll admit, all of this talk about immediate and measurable results has caused me a bit of anxiety.
I’m here to tell you that a cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. I’ll tell you again and again until you believe me. Cancer can be treated and cured, especially when diagnosed early. Even here in Zambia. Especially here in Zambia.
In Zambia, the ability to bear children is particularly important to women. In the Bemba language, the phrase “imiti ikula empanga” (meaning “the shrubs that grow now will become the forest”) emphasizes the importance of children to society. Surgical treatment for gynecologic cancer may involve removal of part or all of the uterus, preventing a woman from bearing children. This makes the decision to undergo surgical treatment difficult for many women. Providing accurate, personalized information on surgical treatment to each woman is critical, so she can make the decision that is best for her.
With 11% of the world’s population, and 25% of the global disease burden (and if I may add, 1% of the global health care expenditure), Africa never ceases to amaze many. Add to this, only 1% share of the world’s pharmaceutical markets is in Africa, and two thirds of the global value of pharmaceutical products is produced in 5 countries (USA, Japan, France, Germany and the UK) where the global disease burden is negligible. Light bulb moment anyone? I can’t help but think of the significant amounts of donor money flowing into the purchase of ARVs and other essential medicines in sub-saharan Africa that could be diverted into local pharmacy production instead of flowing to multinational corporations and Indian generic manufacturers.
One year ago , I was saying goodbye to family and friends and boarding a plane to Zambia. With 3 weeks left in the fellowship, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection on where I’m going next. But to fully appreciate where I’m going, I think it’s import to reflect on where I’ve been and how I got here. So here goes… In early 2012 I saw an ad in GOOD Online Magazine that read, “Are you under 30? Do you want to work in Africa?” I answered each question aloud, albeit with a hint of skepticism, saying “Yes?