My three-month field placement was an educational and enlightening journey. As it comes to an end I am able to reflect on my experience and the lessons I learned.
I spent the first three weeks of my placement in Ghana as I was initially going to be working on a project there. However, unforeseen circumstances meant that project did not go ahead. Arrangements were made for me to relocate to Kenya where I, as mentioned in my previous post, “interned” at the Population Council with a group of MPH students from UCLA.
I had the opportunity to learn firsthand about the role of large global health research organizations in improving policies and programs. I worked closely with Population Council research associates and fellow interns to conduct a research project and complete a draft report for potential publication. I was also able to accompany field workers to the field as they conducted interviews in remote areas on the Kenyan coast. That experience really completed my time in Kenya. I was able to experience the challenges that go into gathering data of that kind firsthand and witnessed the geographical and transportation barriers that people face when attempting to access health services.
My time at the Population Council provided me with the opportunity to learn more about the role of research in identifying neglected health and development problems and improving well-being and health of current and future generations. My main project was focused on the barriers that women face when attempting to access care for obstetric fistula. The Population Council has a partnership with Fistula Care Plus at Engender Health. They will use the systemative review that I produced over the next year as they design and implement future intervention projects. I really appreciate that the Population Council’s work does not end with conducting research; they strive to ensure that their findings are translated into concrete improvements in policies and programs.
|Doing a summary presentation on my time in Kenya for the office|
All in all, I had a wonderful experience that I will carry with me as my time in the MDP comes to an end. I want to say asante sana (thank you very much) to my mentors and peers at the Population Council—especially Ben, Timothy, James, Zoe, Amy, Ian, Melissa, and Nicholas—and to the various friends I met along the way. I am going to miss Nairobi and look forward to coming back one day!
|Amy Westerman (UCLA intern), Zoe Baker (UCLA intern) & myself with a team of Population Council fieldworkers|