GHIC 2021: Global Health & Innovation Conference
April 8-11, 2021
A Virtual Event

Unite For Sight's 2010 Global Health & Innovation Conference

Blog Report By Indu Voruganti, Unite For Sight Global Health Leadership Intern

Young Leader of Social Change Speakers: Hands-On Global Health Impact

This session was dedicated to talks on Young Leaders of Social Change, particularly on various hands-on global health impact projects.

"Implementation of an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) in Rural Honduras," Kyle Lavin, MD/MPH Student, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Honduran Health Alliance

The first talk I listened to in this session was given by Kyle Lavin, which focused on the Honduran Health Alliance, and the implementation of an electronic medical record (EMR) system in rural areas. Each summer, a group of UNC medical and public health students travels to Honduras for a women's health education and screening project. Students visit six partner communities where they live with families and give health education talks for community women. The medical student trip group gave charlas to the locals on nutrition during pregnancy, family planning methods, sexually transmitted diseases, breastfeeding, and infant and child nutrition. While administering the charlas, the students realized there was a need for an EMR system. However, the group encountered several challenges in implementing this project. The political unrest in Summer 2009 from the military coup of the Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya, and the subsequent protests that ensued, had made Honduras an unsafe destination. This made it almost nearly impossible for them to get to Honduras. However, the volunteers’ time was spent working closely with the locals, and priming the areas for implementation for a future EMR system.

"Evaluating the Use of Mobile Phone Technology to Enhance Postnatal Care in South Africa," Kemunto Mokaya, Medical Student, Yale School of Medicine

Kemunto Mokaya decided to take a year off before medical school to do research in South Africa. It is well understood that in this region of Africa, HIV/AIDS is linked to poor health outcomes. However, as Kemunto discovered, there are many other factors that are linked to poor health such as postpartum hemorrhage, infections, and poor health care communication, and in many instances, these factors are sometimes overlooked. Kemunto took a very innovative approach to address these issues by researching and utilizing the preferences of cell phone use among mothers, the healthcare staff attitudes towards using cell phones in care, and the impact of their use in South Africa. It was found that 98% of mothers had access to cell phones, a fact that proved to be very useful in implementing this project. Many of the mothers said they would highly benefit from text message reminders for them to go to clinic, to take medications, as well as to receive diagnostic test results. This use of technology may prove to be a very useful, direct, and cost-effective tool in enhancing postnatal care in many other settings around the world, especially since mobile phone technology is becoming more accessible to rural communities.

"Eye Care in Chennai, India," Zhuo Su, Undergraduate, Yale University, and Bing Qing Wang, Undergraduate, University of Toronto, Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellow Alumni

The focus of the session then shifted to the experiences of two Unite for Sight Global Impact Fellow Alumni. Zhuo and Bing spent seven weeks in Chennai, India working locally with ophthalmologist Dr. Senthil, as well as with Dr. Yvonne M. Buys of the University of Toronto. In India, one-third of all blindness has been attributed to cataracts. The two Global Impact Fellows studied the visual status of 424 15+ year-olds in the rural and slum areas of Chennai by surveying them. The survey was conducted prior to the eye exam by the local eye doctors. The blindness observed in most cases was preventable, and all they had really needed were the resources and programs to educate individuals about good eye health. The Chennai research project was accepted for presentation at ARVO and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society. The students are in the process of publishing their findings. What is the future direction of their research? Bing and Zhuo have undertaken a new domestic research project in New Haven, CT, investigating why parents do not take their children back to clinics after preliminary visits, using a similar surveying system to collect findings.

"Pediatric Emergency Care Training and Health Services Assessments in Conflict-Affected Southern Sudan," Ellie Nowak, Undergraduate Student, Harvard College
"Documentary on the Effects of Blindness on a Personal Level," Haeinn Woo, Undergraduate, Mount Holyoke; Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellow Alumna

The final two speakers of the session included Ellie Nowak, an undergraduate student from Harvard College, and Haeinn Woo, an undergraduate student from Mount Holyoke, and Unite for Sight Global Impact Fellow Aluma. Ellie spoke about her work on pediatric emergency care training and health services assessments in conflict-affected Southern Sudan. Ellie described how Sudan had been a war torn country for 20+ years, lacking in pediatric emergency care and services. In her project from May-June 2009, Ellie sought to assist in the training of practitioners across all area of health practice. The training began at Massachusetts General Hospital in Maternal and Child Health. They proceeded to train people in three of the different teaching hospitals. Dr. Burke, who was involved in the project, taught the process of neonatal resuscitation. In Southern Sudan, volunteers were equipped with Arabic pocket translation cards for the patients. They were also familiarized with various medical technologies such as incubators, training equipment, etc. Practitioners trained in emergency care and services were well equipped for the challenges they faced in Southern Sudan. The session ended with a talk on the Haeinn Woo’s experience in Tamale, Ghana, where Haeinn made a documentary on the effects of blindness on a personal level.

All speakers were very inspiring, leaving the audience feeling empowered and buzzing with ideas for future hands-on global impact projects.

Key Takeaways: