It isn’t sheer happenstance. No. I don’t believe it. Doing my practicum with UNC’s Global Projects Zambia (UNC GPZ) comes to me like a déjà vu. When I was researching UNC, I learned about the summer practicum placements which are compulsory. I knew that I did not want to do my practicum in the US or Europe. It had to be Africa. I started eyeing opportunities that would bring me back to Africa right from the time I got accepted into UNC. I fixed my gaze on Lilongwe and Lusaka. I even started reaching out to professors about possible opportunities in South Africa. Later, other exciting opportunities came up – Uganda and Tanzania. For some reasons, I had to give up all other opportunities and head South of Africa.
Initially, I was going to work with IMPOWER 022 which is a third phase clinical trial project. This project assessed a promising once-monthly Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug against HIV as a substitute for the current daily regimen which presents adherence challenges due to the frequency of intake required for efficacy. An ideal PrEP should work like a contraceptive – offering choice–thus allowing for a single jab or swallow to last effectively for a longer period. For some reasons, IMPOWER 022 is currently on hold in the Zambia study site even though it is continuing in other sites.
I will be fortunate to participate in and learn more about the regulatory process since this project is just starting out with preparatory work being done to meet various IRB requirements here in the United States and in Zambia. My second objective is to understand the community engagement process in Zambia which yields high enrollment rates for various studies in the past. I am interested in understanding the strategies adopted and implemented by the Zambian research team in achieving low attrition and high retention of study participants.
Localization and decolonization of Global Health is an area that interests me most. The UNC Global Projects Zambia hub is a classic example of how global health can be decolonized, and I am excited to be part of this network at this juncture of my career and studies.
I am thankful to my faculty advisor Prof. Suzanne Maman, the Director of UNC GPZ, Dr. Margaret Kasaro, and the Vice Chair of Research and Innovation at the UNC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Ben Chi, for the opportunity and mentorship before and at the commencement of my internship. I have learned so many valuable lessons thus far and find this opportunity as one that would open many doors for my public health career in the foreseeable future.
My name is Enioluwaduroti Johnson, I am a second-year MPH student in the maternal, child and family health concentration. As a medical doctor and an aspiring pediatrician from Nigeria, I knew that I wanted a practicum that was globally focused to low- and middle-income countries. My practicum is at the University Of North Carolina, Gillings Zambia Hub. This is an organization with a mission to partner with Zambia to address urgent global health challenges.
My practicum organization is working on analyzing and disseminating data from a formative research project focused on infant care and feeding practices among families affected by HIV. The project has conducted qualitative research to examine the feasibility and acceptability of engaging male partners, grandmothers, and other family members to support HIV-positive mothers in Lusaka to practice recommended infant care and feeding practices, and women for continued antiretroviral therapy adherence.
My practicum project involves participating in qualitative data analysis and preparing findings to share with key stakeholders in Zambia. I am working with the team on using qualitative analysis software ATLAS.TI to code the responses from the interviews that took place in Lusaka. I will also be creating dissemination materials with research findings for different audiences.
For my practicum, I wanted to work somewhere that focused on work involving mothers and children in sub-Saharan Africa. This was in accordance with my career goals of improving the lives of people in that population and in that region. My goals for my practicum included learning a skill, which I am doing by learning and using the ATLAS.TI software for my research analysis and coding. Another goal I had was to do something out of my comfort zone, I wanted to be stretched mentally and academically and I believe that this practicum is going to provide me with that experience.
My practicum has been amazing so far!!! My preceptor and teammates have been welcoming and helpful. I look forward to our weekly meetings where I learn so much from everyone. I am also looking forward to learning how to use the organizational network analysis software after coding the transcripts. It has been an interesting learning experience and I am excited to see it unfold.
Hi there! My name is Jasmine Hodges, I’m a rising 2nd year MPH candidate in the Maternal, Child, and Family Health (MCFH) concentration. This summer I am working with UNC’s Zambia Hub as their analysis and dissemination intern. You may ask, what does that mean, haha? Well, right now I’m helping with a systematic review that evaluates literature to help identify risk factors for HIV acquisition during pregnancy and breastfeeding in sub-Saharan Africa.
So far, I’ve enjoyed working on the project because it combines two topics I’m passionate about, HIV prevention and MCH in a global setting. I specifically like that this research is focused on pregnant and breastfeeding women which is a population that is often overlooked. In addition to learning more about this population, I’m learning about the many methods of public health research; and gaining a deeper understanding of different epidemiologic terminology and measurements. The skills I learned in SPHG 712 are really coming in handy 🙂
As this summer continues, I hope this experience gives me some further insight on what I call “the behind-the-scenes work,” producing research that informs solutions. Prior to starting my MPH program, I worked a lot with community engagement and implementing interventions. I discovered that I really enjoyed this, but I wanted to learn more about how those solutions are created and how the ideas all begin; for me the best way to do that was through research. I look forward to this experience showing me more of that side, and in the future hopefully I will be able to culminate my skills to work with the best of both worlds.
Overall, this summer is off to a great start! I think there may be a few challenges since I am working from home. It will be important to take those necessary breaks and have intentional check-ins with my support system. One of my goals this summer is to explore the different coffee shops in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham to get out of the house and work. Wish me luck! 🙂