Shirati is a small village in the northern part of Tanzania. Approximately 15 miles from the Kenyan border, the closest airport is a 6-hour drive. The roads are unpaved and washed away in many places by rainfall. Cows and goats are more commonly found trotting along the roads than are cars and motorcycles. To say that Shirati is rural would be a gross underestimation. Shirati's distance from major cities and towns elsewhere in Tanzania presents its residents with unique challenges, including access to clean water, sanitation services, and other resources. The majority of the population is estimated to live on approximately $1 per day. Diseases, including schistosomiasis and malaria, afflict large proportions of the population.
Yet, despite these challenges, the people of Shirati are the kindest I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. The majority of my project involves entering the community to conduct surveys on water quality and diarrheal disease. Every day, I visit new strangers' homes and am always welcomed with a warm "Karibu sana." Chairs are brought out for the strange muzungo visitor, and nearly every home, despite intense poverty and lack of food sources to feed their large families, offers maize or beans. Children, in particular, are strong and resilient. Their loving spirits and eagerness to play with muzungo visitors despite the challenges they face daily is truly inspiring and heart-warming.
Thus far, my project has been incredibly enlightening.I have sampled 6 different water sources and surveyed numerous families. Despite an incomplete data set, it is already abundantly clear that diarrheal disease impacts a large percentage of the population in Shirati. Those that rely on Lake Victoria appear to be particularly vulnerable. The rest of my time here will continue to illuminate the immense disease prevalence the Shirati community faces. I look forward to continuing this research and working closely with the wonderful people who I learn from each and every day.
After 2 days of flying and a one and half hour car ride, I made it to Kampala, Uganda, where I’ll be spending the next few months doing Tuberculosis (TB) research. My colleague from UCSF has been showing me around for the past couple days getting set up with a phone, acquainting me with the area, and finalizing all the project materials, so now I feel ready to take on the summer! I’ll be writing many of the SOPs for the first part of a TB treatment implementation trial and going to hospital sites to enroll them in our study. On June 5, I’ll be going with another TB team to enroll health centers in preparation to do that myself in July. The people I’ve met at the project offices have been very welcoming and coincidentally my roommate was also a former UC Berkeley MPH IDV graduate now doing her PhD at Hopkins. (Go Bears!)
When I first started my MPH in the fall of 2017, I knew I wanted to do international TB work for my internship and I am very appreciative of the funding and support CGPH has provided to make this journey possible. I’ve done molecular TB research in the years prior to graduate school and am excited to work on studies that now focus on the public health epidemiology of the disease. Can’t wait to get immersed in the work, explore an amazing country, and get my project done this summer!
MPH IDV, 2019
This summer, I will be working with a team at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) to evaluate a group-based integrated caregiving support program in Kishoreganj, Bangladesh. The intervention integrates behavioral recommendations for water, sanitation, hygiene, nutrition, lead and arsenic exposure prevention, and early child stimulation, and aims to change caregivers’ behaviors, and improve child health and development.
Over the next month I will assist the team with the development and refinement of our endline survey, which will take place over 3-4 weeks in June and July. In advance of data collection I will also be working with the team to create a pre-analysis plan. I am looking forward to working with a supportive and dedicated team of researchers at icddr,b in Bangladesh this summer, and am very thankful for the opportunity provided by the CGPH summer fellowship!
PhD Candidate in Epidemiology