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Helping Boost Capacity – TransFORMING into a Global Health Fellow

May 30th, 2013 — 2:43pm

The first weeks with Save the Children International has really exceeded all of my expectations. I have never in my life met so many friendly and welcoming people at once. Every morning the local custom among all staff members is three kisses on the cheek, handshakes and a “bump” in the shoulder. They give so much love to each other, which I deeply admire. After a lot of reading and learning from the people on the team, time has come for me to apply my knowledge and experience into the TransACTION program, which is the program I will be supporting the four months I am here. Continue reading »

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Senior Care Initiatives and the Challenges of the Rising Elderly Population in China

May 30th, 2013 — 2:21pm

On May 6, 2013 Project Hope launched the “Senior Care” program which will successfully benefit the elderly who live in the Tang Qiao community in Shanghai, China.  This project is a pilot program to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a community- and home-based healthcare system for seniors in the community through the funding support of Baxter International Foundation.  Project Hope has chosen the Tang Qiao community for the following reasons: 1) established partnership in previous healthcare initiatives (i.e. non-communicable disease (NCD) management programs) and 2) approximately 25% of the community are over the age of 65.

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China Raises Diabetes Awareness in the Workplace

May 29th, 2013 — 10:20pm


The companies are generally interested in Diabetes Awareness Education Workplace Sessions.  However, as most of the working company employees are young, on average within their 20s and 30s age range, many of the

Lesley Shane (GHF) and Cathy Wang (Coordinator Sustainable Development and Communications, AngoAmerica China), discussing the content of the GBCHealth Diabetes Initiative Project in China which is aimed to enhance employee diabetes awareness education at the workplace.

company’s surveyed felt that the education would not be directly suitable for this audience because diabetes is not perceived to be a current problem for this demographic. I learned instead, that there was greater interest for Diabetes Awareness Education targeted at the Employee’s older family members and relatives.  With further dialogue with the Companies, it was discussed that over the last decade with increased economic growth and lifestyle changes that diabetes prevalence in China is reportedly starting in younger people, in the 30+ ages, and also increasing in younger people (e.g. teenagers and college aged students).  Also, Interestingly, China’s ‘One Child Policy’, initiated in 1979 to present day to curb population growth and promote prosperity, has been linked to obesity and diabetes.  It has been proposed this link associated with increased economic growth, increasing car ownership and more sedentary lifestyles, combined with greater availability and consumption of tasty, yet calorie/energy-dense Western foods.  From these discussions with the Company Members, it was agreed that the Diabetes Awareness Education for the employees would also be helpful for the future prevention of diabetes at the early stages for people who may be at future risk.  


The survey feedback also suggested that the Diabetes Awareness Education materials be developed in ‘simple, non-technical’ (e.g. without the use of medical or complex terminology) words , translated to the Chinese language, with the inclusion of visual illustrations to optimize understanding of the key diabetes awareness points and messages by the target audiences.  One example of a simple ‘easy to understand’ tool developed is a Diabetes Awareness themed Refrigerator Magnet (under production) that contains key diabetes awareness self-management messages.  Some key diabetes self-prevention and self-management tips include keeping blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure at healthy levels, maintaining regular exercise and a healthy diet lifestyle. For people with Diabetes, the aforementioned prevention tips as well as regular blood testing and doctor visits, foot care and seeking family support are important for self-management. The tools also include a Diabetes hotline email address for questions. As each member company has different needs, I am customizing the materials for each audience.


During the process of researching and developing the materials, I appreciated further the magnitude of the diabetes disease burden in China and the very important need for diabetes awareness education focused on prevention and diagnosis of diabetes at its early stage.  With the pervasive low awareness, patients tend to confirm the diagnosis only when the disease has developed to its late stage. For those who are diagnosed, they also don’t know much about how to treat and manage the disease.  The GBCHealth China Diabetes Partnership and workplace training initiative is an important and necessary initiative to enhance education awareness.


Lifestyle wise, Beijing, China, has been a wonderful experience. From my perspective, the city is an interesting city of opposites, the old and the new together and also very beautiful in springtime. On the same street corner, one can view many fast moving high-end cars speeding by, while at the same time scores of boxed shaped grey/green motorized gas and electric powered two and three cycle scooter vehicles driving by, as well as a regular flood of moving cyclists. As this is May, with the arrival of the warmer weather, the blooming trees are in their full glory and smell wonderfully fragrant.

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Communication is Critical!

May 22nd, 2013 — 7:19pm

Jambo!  (Hello!)  Since the beginning of May 2013, IntraHealth International Kenya has welcomed and fully integrated me into their Capacity Kenya Project (CKP) team.  Although it’s only been a couple of weeks, I am acclimating well and am excited about what this experience will bring.  Each day has been different and I’m even challenging myself to learn Swahili.  Kuwa na siku njema! (Have a good day!)  Continue reading »

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Working together to Fight Infectious Diseases

May 21st, 2013 — 2:08pm

Time is flying. It has been six weeks since my arrival in Beijing as a Pfizer Global Health Fellow. I am working with US Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Beijing Office for four months. In this program, I work along with US and China CDC colleagues evaluating the nature of newly emerging infectious diseases, studying how contagious they are and what the diseases transmission paths are. In the end, we want to understand what we can do to prevent further outbreak. Continue reading »

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My Fellowship Project: India Kala-Azar Elimination Program

May 6th, 2013 — 12:48am

I have recently learned some details about my primary fellowship project: I will be based in New Delhi, helping CARE India to set up a new program to eradicate Kala-Azar, or visceral leishmaniasis (VL).

VL is a disease caused by a protozoan called Leishmania donovani, and it is transmitted by Phlebotomus, a small sand fly, which bites human hosts much like a mosquito. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is endemic in the province of Bihar in India (where I’ll be working in the field) and 60%+ of VL cases occur in the Indian subcontinent (including Bangladesh, and Nepal). VL is also prevalent in Brazil and Sudan. In 2010, in Bihar alone, over 20,000 cases of VL were reported (with likely many more unreported), and nearly 100 reported deaths due to the disease. Continue reading »

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Diabetes in China is a large concern with much need for higher awareness

May 6th, 2013 — 12:42am

In my 3-month fellowship assignment from April 1st through to the end of June 2013, I am partnering with GBCHealth a coalition of more than 220 companies united to keep the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and non-communicable diseases (including diabetes) a global priority.  My assignment is focused on developing a new Diabetes Awareness Training Module working with GBCHealth (and other stakeholders: other NGOs, clinicians, where possible), to educate and train employees of multinationals operating in China and Chinese companies.   Continue reading »

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What’s in a glass of water?

May 6th, 2013 — 12:24am

To walk the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is an experience like no other. The confluence of sights, smells and sounds produces a rich sensory experience that is best compared to modern jazz. To a westerner, the seemingly disparate elements of people and animals, technology and tradition, and space and proximity, collide in chorus to create a culture that is oddly vibrant and harmonious. It is not unusual to see Coptic and Protestant Christians alike engaged in relaxed and friendly banter despite the din of traffic and the sound of Adhan (Muslim call to prayer) booming from the loud-speakers of a nearby mosque. Modern-looking buses wait patiently in the middle of crowded streets while pairs of pack-laden donkeys (who are convinced they have just as much right to the road as the buses) cross on their own with no owner in sight. Traditionally garbed men and women walk about almost as numerously as the Smartphone-wielding masses. And, as an undercurrent to the rhythm of the city, is the ubiquitous smell of diesel fumes freely interspersed with the smoky aromas of incense which wafts out of coffee houses located everywhere. Continue reading »

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An Ethiopian Love Story

May 6th, 2013 — 12:24am

This wasn’t the love of sweaty palms, fluttering heartbeats and wet kisses exchanged in secret places, far from the prying eyes and disapproving looks of high-nosed adults. She knew better this time. Genet had first married young because of this kind of love. But, like most fires, the affection they shared had burned brightly at first, waned over time and eventually burned itself out. And, for years after her divorce, she had been far too consumed with the struggles of being a single parent to entertain the notion of a relationship with another person. Now approaching 40, she rarely attracted the attention of men, much less serious consideration from them as marriage material. Fish had changed all that. Fisseha, “Fish”, as his friends called him, was more than just a practical solution to advancing age and loneliness. He loved her completely – the way a 38-year old divorced mother of grown children deserved to be loved. And, this time it smoldered, forging a deep between them. This was love. Continue reading »

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Lifelong Lessons

December 17th, 2012 — 1:30am

How do you wrap up 6 months of work in a final blog?  You don’t.  You talk about perspectives and knowledge you have gained for the last 6 months.  Learning to live in a third world country and working with an organization that does not work for profit are two of the biggest challenges of my life.  They were also two of the best.  Going into a 6 month fellowship can be an intimidating experience, but worth so much more in the end.  Continue reading »

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