My Experience as a Unite For Sight Global Health World Fellow
By Sarah Conway, BA Amherst College
Fellow, August 2010 - July 2011 (Current Global Health World Fellow)
As a Global Health World Fellow in 2010-2011, I have the opportunity to work in Unite For Sight’s office in New Haven, Connecticut. I first was introduced to Unite For Sight when I attended the Global Health & Innovation Conference in 2010. At the conference, I was exposed to and fascinated by the multi-faceted nature of Unite For Sight and global health in general.
Before my fellowship at Unite For Sight, I had always been interested in global health, but I did not fully appreciate the many complexities and challenges that exist in delivering health care abroad, nor did I understand the best ways to do so. From my experience at Unite For Sight, I now have a much greater understanding of best practices regarding health care delivery and non-profit management, as well as unique insight into social entrepreneurship and aid work. Interacting with CEO and founder of Unite For Sight, Jennifer Staple-Clark, on a daily basis in developing course materials, and discussing issues in global health has been invaluable. In addition, learning about Unite For Sight’s model and about how the organization grew and developed into such an amazing organization has been inspirational.
Throughout my fellowship, I have worked primarily in two areas of Unite For Sight: Global Impact Corps and Global Health University.
Global Impact Corps
My responsibilities with Unite For Sight Global Impact Corps include working with our Campus Representatives. Unite For Sight’s Campus Representatives are our most stellar Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellow alumni. I oversee and work closely with the Campus Representatives as they raise awareness about Unite For Sight and about global health delivery on their respective campuses. In this capacity, I help the students to plan events with Unite For Sight speakers and to arrange a variety of information sessions and presentations. Having the opportunity to interact with so many motivated, enthusiastic, and accomplished volunteers has truly been inspirational. Hearing about their experiences with Unite For Sight, and about how their time abroad has impacted their lives, has also been very moving. I have really enjoyed interacting with the Campus Representatives because I know that I am helping to promote and raise awareness about such a unique and amazing organization.
Global Health University
With Global Health University, I work with Jennifer Staple-Clark on developing educational materials to raise awareness about issues in global health and non-profit management. I have developed the following resources:
- Certificate Program in Refugee Health describes patient barriers to care, innovations in healthcare, and education for those in refugee camps as well as for resettled refugees. This course also discusses refugee camp economies, local social entrepreneurship, and cross-cultural understanding.
- Measuring Poverty and Poverty Scorecards Article addresses the issue of determining who is poor, and why it is important to measure poverty. It discusses methods that have been used to measure poverty, including a new effective way to measure poverty through poverty scorecards. This article is part of the Certificate in Global Health Research.
- Quality Health Data Article discusses quality data as well as the importance of high quality data in health care. This article is part of the Certificate in Global Health Research.
- The Complexities and Realities in Visual Communication Article which is part of the Visual Communication in Global Health Course, discusses the power of visual communication and the importance of designing graphics and pictures with the cultural perspective of the targeted population in mind.
- Certificate Program in Responsible NGO Management was designed to provide a comprehensive understanding about responsible NGO and nonprofit management. It discusses the importance of local collaboration and local context in program development, the importance of transparency and accountability, strong branding, funding models and marketing.
- Glaucoma Screenings: Challenges and Failures article discusses glaucoma and the documented failures of glaucoma screenings.
- Challenges and Failures of Vision Screenings article discusses the lack of evidence basis for vision screenings and the challenges and failures of visual acuity tests as a screening methodology. This article forms the basis for a New Haven-based research study in Unite For Sight's Global Impact Lab.
- Voluntary Health Workers Article discusses the role of voluntary health workers and their capacity to spread awareness about health issues and improve health outcomes.
- Challenges and Failures of Health Fairs and Community Screenings article discusses the inconclusive evidence regarding the benefit of health screenings.
- Surgery and Global Health Course discusses how surgical conditions form a significant burden of disease and are an important public health issue.
- Validity of Research article discusses how to ensure that research is valid and the large influence that external factors have on researchers and their studies. This article is part of the Certificate in Global Health Research.
- How to Quantify Qualitative Research article discusses the importance of quantifying data and how to conduct a quantitative analysis of qualitative data. This article is part of the Certificate in Global Health Research.
- Survey Methodologies article discusses different types of survey methodologies and questions as well as the pros and cons of KAP surveys. This article is part of the Certificate in Global Health Research.
- Relevant Research article discusses how researchers should conduct research that is relevant to the communities in which they work and that they should avoid conducting research only because it is in line with their personal interests. This article is part of the Certificate in Global Health Research.
- Poverty and Blindness article discusses the link between poverty and blindness, the economic burden of blindness, and the impact of blindness on children and family members. This article is part of the Community Eye Health Online Course and also the basis for a Summer 2011 research study in Unite For Sight's Global Impact Lab.
- Interpreting Research Studies article discusses the importance of considering a study’s survey methodology, data quality and validity when interpreting it. This article is part of the Certificate Program in Public Health Management.
- Outcomes are Essential in Global Health article discusses the difference between outputs and outcomes and the importance of measuring outcomes to assess the impact of an intervention. This article is part of the Certificate Program in Global Health Practice.
- Using Data in Public Health Delivery article discusses how data is critical to evaluate program impact, determine appropriate public health interventions, monitor progress, determine barriers to care and influence public policy. This article is part of the Certificate Program in Public Health Management.
- The Challenges and Failures of Nutrition Studies discusses the common pitfalls of nutrition studies. This article is part of the Certificate in Global Health Research.
- The Effective Water Program Development article is part of the Certificate in Effective Program Development.
- The Gender, Power and Health Course discusses how family, gender and power dynamics strongly influence health and health outcomes. This course is part of the Maternal and Child Health Certificate Program.
- The Importance of Submitting Data to the Local Community article discusses the need for researchers to submit data to the local community, so that the results can be actively utilized for community benefit. This article is part of the Certificate in Global Health Research.
- The Data Analysis article discusses how to analyze data in Excel, and describes how to use the sort function, and pivot tables. This article is part of the Certificate in Global Health Research.
- The Ethics and Filmmaking in Developing Countries article discusses some of the ethical issues, which must be considered before creating films. It emphasizes how films should not rely on a single voice to represent reality, and how filmmakers should consider the effects the film will have on its actors.
Creating resources for Global Health University has been an extremely enlightening and stimulating experience. By reading and researching so many diverse topics, I now have a much better understanding about the many different issues that impact health care in the developing world and in the United States. I am appreciative of this newfound knowledge because I am now able to think more critically about public health interventions, best practices, and non-profit work.
Data Analysis and Global Health & Innovation Conference
As part of my year-long fellowship, I also have helped to organize and prepare for Unite For Sight’s Global Health & Innovation Conference. Having the opportunity to be involved with planning for the conference, as well as serving as a moderator at the conference, were great experiences. In addition, most recently, I have been conducting statistical analyses on data from our partner eye clinics to help identify needs and trends for the global health delivery programs.
I feel privileged to be able to work at an organization that I can confidently say does great work. By partnering with local clinics and local physicians, Unite For Sight is able to provide eye care for those who cannot afford it, and in a sustainable, responsible manner. The fact that Unite For Sight has an incredible impact not only on individuals, but also on thousands of lives, is inspirational. Working at Unite For Sight has corroborated my interest in international health, and has inspired me and motivated me to continue working in the field of public health. As I enter medical school in Fall 2011, I am sure that I will incorporate much of what I have learned at Unite For Sight into my medical school education and into my future career as a physician. I believe that this fellowship can be a valuable opportunity not only for those who are interested in health and medicine, but also for those who are interested in making a difference by contributing to an organization that does such meaningful, high-impact work.