Director’s Blog May 2021

Director’s Blog May 2021

Amid the familiar bursts of color and warm breezes that call us back outdoors for another glorious North Carolina spring, there are signs of a return to a pre-pandemic way of life. In light of increasing vaccinations and decreasing case numbers, Governor Cooper lifted the mask mandate at the beginning of May, with a plan to end most of the Covid-related restrictions in June. Duke was able to hold an in-person graduation, and is committed to having all students back on campus in the fall. So, while there is still a long road ahead of us, it’s reassuring to see some tangible plans for a return to normalcy. As we start to recover from the pandemic, this quarter’s newsletter focuses on what true healing looks like. Although everyone’s experience was unique, the pandemic undoubtedly brought some loss to all of us, whether in the form of isolation, missed opportunities, or, for too many of us, the loss of family or loved...
Read More
Director’s Blog March 2021

Director’s Blog March 2021

Today, March 8, is the International Women’s Day (IWD) a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It’s also the date that the Duke Center for Global Reproductive Health launched three years ago. This year’s theme for IWD is #choosetochallenge. Reflecting not only the immense challenges of the past year, but many of the longstanding gender and other biases that impact our world, the organizers have called on people around the world to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality while seeking out and celebrating women’s achievements. You can join the challenge here. Gender bias alone is not the only challenge impacting women’s health, health equity and equal participation in the workforce. February and March are Black history and Women’s history months, respectively. This past February, twenty leading health organizations released a statement designating February 28 and March 1 as dates to acknowledge the three enslaved women, Betsey, Lucy and Anarcha, who were experimented...
Read More
Launch of the Kisumu Cervical Cancer Alliance Website

Launch of the Kisumu Cervical Cancer Alliance Website

On Thursday, January 14, the Kisumu Cervical Cancer Alliance held a Zoom meeting to review current plans and status of cervical cancer prevention in the region, and to launch their new website: www.kisumucanceralliance.org. The KCCA was started approximately three years ago to harmonize and increase the impact of cervical cancer prevention efforts among health care systems, non-profit organizations and government programs. Their mission is to “create an alliance of partners and stakeholder working to improve cancer screening, treatment and rehabilitation services in Kisumu County.” The website will serve as a resource for people interested in learning more about screening and vaccination and for women diagnosed with cervical cancer. Partners working in cervical cancer can share their work, and learn more about what control efforts in the region. The Kisumu first lady, Dorothy Nyongo, who has been a powerful advocate in cancer control for the region, was in attendance. She lauded the work, stating that “despite Covid, she is proud that...
Read More
Director’s Blog December 2020

Director’s Blog December 2020

The past eight months have been a time of unexpected and often stressful changes as we navigate life with Covid-19 amidst a period of social and political unrest in this country. As the year comes to a close, we’ve chosen to focus this newsletter on the changes we’ve experienced over the past semester—what we’ll keep, what we’ve learned and how this has been a powerful catalyst for our work.  At this stage in the pandemic, the changes that felt temporary have become engrained into our daily lives—it’s natural to grab a mask before leaving the house, standing six feet away is the norm and it’s assumed that when we set up a meeting, it will be by Zoom.  While most of us can’t wait to resume more normalcy in our social and personal lives, some of these necessary changes have turned out to have unexpected benefits. Personally, I get to see my kids a lot more than I did before...
Read More
October 2020 Director’s Message: Let’s make 2020 count, while it lasts

October 2020 Director’s Message: Let’s make 2020 count, while it lasts

When I wrote my last newsletter, Covid had sent students home for the rest of the spring semester, and many in the reproductive health community were wondering whether and how to engage in advocacy during the pandemic. In the past five months, Covid has transformed from a time-limited public health emergency, into our daily public health reality. Duke has settled into a new normal with a transformed campus life, including more social distancing, online and hybrid classrooms and an active surveillance program for faculty, staff and students. Our teams in Kenya and Uganda have used the research pause to strengthen their relationships with the local partners in sexual and reproductive health, mental health and cancer care, utilizing zoom workshops and webinars to build their networks and develop strategies to reimagine health care for the Covid and post-Covid era. Similarly, Blue Devils have risen to the occasion. Students have worked hard to engage online, balancing the new demands of masking, social...
Read More
April 2020 Director’s Message

April 2020 Director’s Message

As this very unusual semester comes to an end, the world around us is filled with uncertainty. The Covid-19 crisis has changed our learning, working, and social environments in profound ways that would have seemed unimaginable just a few months ago. The challenges of transitioning to online learning are capped by the disappointment of missing out on the rituals that come with spring at Duke, especially LDOC and graduation activities. We are faced with uncertainty about when we’ll see friends and classmates again, stress associated with working at home while ostensibly caring for and schooling our children, and navigating the continuously changing work demands and structures. On top of this, most of us are worried about the health and safety of loved ones and are wondering when we will get back to normal—and what normal will look like. It may seem that now is not the time to focus on sexual and reproductive health and to prioritize issues directly related...
Read More

Winter 2019 Director’s Message

The end of the semester and calendar lend themselves to reflections on the progress and challenges of the past year, and global health is no exception. In fact, last year we highlighted some of the year’s ups and downs in reproductive health. Both myself and Konyin Adewumi, DGHI MSc ’17, concluded that despite some setbacks, 2018 left us optimistic about progress toward reproductive and sexual health, reflected in a global call toward cervical cancer elimination, a historic decision on abortion rights in Ireland and a record number of women seeking (and achieving) government office in the United States and around the world. This year, the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) facilitates reflections on not just the past year, but the past 25 years of achievements in global reproductive health. The momentous discussion at the ICPD in Cairo, Egypt and the resultant 20-year Programme of Action were pivotal in shaping the agenda in women’s health around...
Read More

Sandra Oketch: The Voice of Cervical Cancer Prevention in Kisumu County

Sandra Oketch, the Kisumu Research Director for the Center has been making the rounds of the radio talk shows to share information about human papillomavirus testing in anticipation of this week’s cancer awareness activities. During this media blitz, Oketch has been speaking on radio shows in Luo, Kiswahili and English, she is working with key members of the Ministry of Health to raise awareness of cervical cancer, educate women on their risk and how to get screened. Activities will include in-person education, screening and a cancer awareness walk on the second and third of October. Key stakeholders will take advantage of the momentum to convene of meeting of partners actively engaged in cancer prevention and treatment to help develop a cancer prevention alliance that works synergistically, without duplication of activities. The First Lady of Kisumu, Dorothy Nyong’o, long a supporter of cancer control activities in the region, has promised to serve as a patron for the Kisumu County Cancer Alliance....
Read More
Welcome Back!

Welcome Back!

With classes back in session, the halls are flowing with students talking about the trials and triumphs of their summers—whether they were in the field, interning in DC, trying out consulting work or just had an amazing vacation. The new school year brings with it a sense of new beginning and purpose—and sometimes an overwhelming feeling of everything needing to get “scheduled” during these first weeks of September.  A colleague recently started an email with the greeting: “did you have a relaxing or productive summer?  I feel like it’s either one or the other.”  It made me reflect on how we take advantage of being out of the classroom, trying to fit in various opportunities for travel, fieldwork and writing time that become harder during the semester, while also taking time to regroup and relax with family and friends. I hope everyone was able to have a little balance this summer, and come into the new school year with renewed...
Read More

Summer SRT team joins Kisumu office

This summer the Center office in Kisumu will be hosting three students through a Student Research Training (SRT) summer program. They will be joined by a Masters in Global Health student, an ob/gyn resident and a post-doctoral fellow, all researching various aspects of cervical cancer prevention and health systems strengthening for reproductive health.  They've just arrived in Kenya, and I've asked them to share some of their plans and expectations for the summer.  Follow this page to see updates on their projects and reflections throughout the summer. Emma Mehlhop, T'21 Since this summer will be my first experience in field work of any kind, I have much to anticipate. First, I am looking forward to reflecting on not just why I am passionate about Global Health, but what I am personally able to contribute to the field. During the Global Health Ethics course, we spent time reflecting on the work of Boniface Mwangi, a Kenyan photojournalist, who asks Global Health workers and...
Read More