Student Spotlight: Ema Kuczura and Sarah Hubner

Student Spotlight: Ema Kuczura and Sarah Hubner

As we just finished the end of the spring semester, we wanted to highlight the work of two of our talented students: Ema Kuczura and Sarah Hubner. Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.  Ema: I am originally from Chicago, IL. I recently graduated Duke where I majored in Public Policy and Global Health. I am a member of the Duke Women's Rowing team where I am finishing up my last season. While at Duke, I also participated in the Rubenstein-Bing Athlete Civic Engagement program, served as Co-President of the One Love student club, and served on the executive board of Duke SHAPE (Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention and Education). Sarah: I am originally from Long Island, New York. I studied Political Science with a concentration in Security Peace, and Conflict and Global Health, and pursued a Markets and Management Studies Certificate. I have long been interested in the intersection of US foreign policy and economic development on health outcomes among marginalized populations...
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Lives in the balance, a COVID-19 Summit

Lives in the balance, a COVID-19 Summit

By: Sandra Yvonne Oketch COVID- 19 is a public health crisis that has ravaged the health and economic situations and magnified the disparities and inequality that already exists in many women, adolescents and children. This impact has led to disruptions in health services that include: management of acute malnutrition, provision of family planning and immunizations, antenatal and postal care, HIV/ AIDS care and many other services. The Lives in the balance a COVID 19 virtual summit held on the 1st and 2nd July 2020 was hosted by Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) and Core Group bringing together key stakeholders to discuss the impact of COVID- 19 on the health and wellbeing of women, children and adolescents. The highlights from key note speakers: The first keynote speaker, was the WHO Director and he emphasized on the need of having multi-stakeholder platforms in the response to the COVID- 19 pandemic. “First, we need to advocate for an intersectoral approach informed by rights- based and...
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Faculty Spotlight: Joy Noel Baumgartner

Faculty Spotlight: Joy Noel Baumgartner

By: Angela Huang Across the past 6 years with Duke, Dr. Joy Noel Baumgartner has done incredible work within the fields of global mental health, studying maternal mental health, psychotic disorders and HIV/RH services in low resources settings across the world. She acts as the Director of the Evidence Lab and the Global Mental Health Working Group in Duke’s Global Health Institute. Furthermore, she acts as an Associate Research Professor of global health teaching classes related to maternal and child health. She also collaborates as a Faculty Network Member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. She has conducted research everywhere from Tanzania to Jamaica, exploring how various community interventions may improve mental health and reproductive health. To highlight her recent work, she’s worked with other researchers in Duke and Guatemala to examine the factors that may prevent or promote implementing a perioperative patient safety program in the Roosevelt Hospital in Guatemala. They found that limited resources, leadership engagement, and knowledge were...
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Studying Global, Staying Local

By: Ema Kuczura and Sarah Hubner  When we entered the Student Research Training Program, we were preparing ourselves to deal with many challenges, including learning new research skills and navigating cultural differences. Working with DGHI Doctoral Scholar, Kelly Hunter, our goal was to understand the impact of the Global Gag Rule on health care providers and non-governmental organizations in Western Kenya. The Global Gag Rule formally referred to as the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy, “aims to ensure that US tax-payer funding does not support foreign non-governmental organizations that perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning” (Michael Pompeo, US Secretary of State). We were planning on using our time in Kisumu to conduct in-person interviews with stakeholders in the reproductive health sector. However, when we heard the news that pandemic would make it impossible to travel to Kenya as we initially anticipated, we knew achieving the goals we set forth for the summer would require newfound...
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Settings and Preparedness in Protecting the Most Undeserved in Humanitarian and Fragile Settings During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Settings and Preparedness in Protecting the Most Undeserved in Humanitarian and Fragile Settings During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Sandra Yvonne Oketch COVID-19 has impacted negatively the women’s, children and adolescents’ health and wellbeing in immeasurable ways. The Lives in the balance COVID- 19 virtual summit held on July 1 and 2, 2020 brought together experts from different fields for an opportunity to listen, discuss and actually reflect on COVID-19 impact and collectively work on a healthy recovery. The breakout sessions included reflections on: One, understanding the humanitarian and fragile settings around protecting the most undeserved including women, children and adolescents; Two, the preparedness in protecting the most undeserved including women, children and adolescents in humanitarian and fragile settings. SETTINGS. Protecting the most undeserved: women, children and adolescents in humanitarian and fragile settings This session was facilitated by Marydale Oppert from International Rescue Committee, IRC who discussed on ways to protect the undeserved in humanitarian and fragile settings. IRC works in over 40 countries in the world mostly with displaced populations and refugees. The pandemic has led to increased disparities in...
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Building Evidence on COVID-19’s Impact on the Health of Women, Adolescents and Children

Building Evidence on COVID-19’s Impact on the Health of Women, Adolescents and Children

By: Sandra Yvonne Oketch The Lives in the balance COVID- 19 virtual summit on July 1 and 2 had an interesting breakout session examining evidence on COVID-19 impact on the health of women, children and adolescents. This session was facilitated by Joy Lawn, Professor, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. It is important to note that in 2019, there were already over 9 million deaths of women and children, with over 50% of these deaths related to pregnancy and birth. This current pandemic exacerbates this situation and undermines the ‘Every Woman Every Child’ campaign efforts.  The ‘Every Woman Every Child’ campaign is a global movement launched by the United Nations that mobilizes and intensifies actors including International and National action by Governments, multilaterals and civil societies to address the major health challenges facing women and children globally. Some of the campaign’s targets to end preventable death for women and children and ensure their health and well-being include: No woman should die...
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Barriers of Access to HIV Treatment Speaker Event

On March 5, 2020, speakers Dr. Tolu Oladele and Dr. Carl Mhina presented on the topic "Barriers of Access to HIV Treatment" as part of the Center for Global Reproductive Health's Reproductive Health in Africa Speaker Series, sponsored by the Africa Initiative. Dr. Oladele is an obstetrician and gynecologist from Nigeria, visiting Duke as a Policy Fellow. Dr. Mhina has studied Health Economics and currently works as a researcher in the Department of Population Health Science who works to understand the impact of HIV on different populations. Dr. Oladele began the presentation speaking about the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV in Nigeria. Only around 50% of expectant mothers are tested for HIV, and attendance at antenatal clinics is low, with around 18% of expectant mothers attending in their first trimester. This inadequate maternal care is in part due to low numbers of facilities that provide such services. In Nigeria, there are approximately 50,000 to 60,000 women with...
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Effects of COVID-19 on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) among Young People in Africa

By: Sandra Y. Oketch Mid-April, I was privileged to join the Live webcast on discussions around the Effects of COVID-19 on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) among young people in Africa. The panelists included experts in the medical, advocacy, and policy fields: Dr. Charlene Biwott (KEMRI, Kenya), Millicent Sethaile (Her Voice Ambassador, Botswana), and Levi Singh (Youth SRHR Strategy Officer, South Africa). The moderator was Evelyne Odhiambo (AfNHi Youth Cohort, Kenya). Important to note were conversations around the vulnerability of young people during this pandemic where the younger populations have so far been the least vulnerable to complications and death from COVID-19 and yet play a very key role in flattening the COVID-19 curve by minimizing transmissions to the vulnerable populations in our society that include the immune-compromised and the elderly. Currently, there has been a great shift of focus in Africa to cater to the COVID-19 pandemic thereby impacting negatively in other areas including SRHR. Some of the effects on...
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Feature Collaboration: Kenya Medical Education Trust (KMET)

Feature Collaboration: Kenya Medical Education Trust (KMET)

By: Sandra Y. Oketch The Kenya Medical Education Finance Trust (KMET) is a non-governmental organization founded in 1995 with a focus to promote innovative and sustainable health and education programs among underserved communities. KMET operates in 35 out of the 47 Counties in Kenya, as well as regionally in East and Central Africa. The organization engages in a number of sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) programs. Reproductive, Maternal, New-born and Child Health (RMNCH)  KMET endeavors to promote maternal and child health (MCH) services through its RMNCH program. These include: increasing awareness to and use of contraception and comprehensive abortion care services and strengthening the capacity of the health care providers to offer youth-friendly services; Provide gynecological, antenatal and postnatal care services; wide range contraception methods, cervical cancer prevention efforts through early screening and treatment in partnership with the Cure Cervical Cancer Organization. KMET, in partnership with Harvard School and Izumi Foundation, has developed an innovative and affordable device in the management of postpartum...
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An Update on the Rakellz Dream Initiative from Robert Zulu

An Update on the Rakellz Dream Initiative from Robert Zulu

Most cervical cancer is highly preventable and can be cured if diagnosed early, yet women across the world suffer high rates of cervical cancer. One such place is Zambia, where the Rakellz Dream Initiative was founded. After losing his wife to cervical cancer in 2015, Robert Zulu decided to launch a cervical cancer education program in Zambia. Now at 36 years old, he is the the founder and executive director of the Rakellz Dream Initiative, a non-governmental organization with a team of over 50 youth volunteers working to raise awareness around cervical cancer through outreach activities and informational films. The long-term vision of the Rakellz Dream Initiative is to help increase cervical cancer knowledge across Zambia to mitigate and prevent terminal diagnoses by the year 2025. When he spoke about his reasons for forming the Rakellz Dream Initiative, Zulu said he wanted to help reduce the ignorance about cervical cancer among the people of Zambia. “When I was nursing my late wife,...
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