By Tosin Ariyo
The Frist Global Health Leaders (FGHL) program affords young health professional students, residents, and fellows the opportunity to serve and train abroad in underserved communities for up to one semester. In doing so, they will bolster capacity in clinics in need of support as well as offer training to community health workers to promote sustainability upon their departure from these communities. As part of the program, they blog about their experiences here. For more information, visit our program page.
After a whirlwind of activities, the outbreak is finally declared over!
After the outbreak was declared over by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, the WHO Health promotion officer developed a 10-item questionnaire in order for the clinic to evaluate the effectiveness of their health promotion intervention. I coordinated the volunteers and the clinic’s environmental health technician in conducting the surveys, which were administered orally. After which I took the initiative to collect and analyze the data and produce a Monitoring and evaluation report, which highlighted the socioeconomic fragility of the district, and the need for consistent health education and promotion efforts to limit the possibility of another outbreak.
There are many things we take for granted in more privileged societies: access to clean water, health care facilities, and sanitation. Going to Kanyama district (the focal point of the outbreak investigation) every day for the past month helped me to fully comprehend the etiology of the outbreak. I am Nigerian, so I am familiar with slums and very rural areas (even in close vicinity to an urban area, as Kanyama was close to Lusaka), but after 8 years in the U.S, I guess I had lost the accurate picture of the reality that sparked my passion for improving the health of underserved populations, in the first place. So while the WHO office staff was thankful to have an extra hand to help I was more grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to step away from the desk and go into the community, and even more grateful to the community (residents, clinic staff) for letting me in and rekindling the fire.
Now it is time to work on my primary project- Cancer Surveillance.