Project: "Weaning Practices in Refugee and Migrant Populations on the Thai-Burmese Border"
September 1, 2013 - August 1, 2014
Mae Sot, Thailand
What does the Kean Fellowship mean to you?
I was ecstatic when I received word that I had been awarded the Kean Fellowship. I am honored to be considered among a group of my peers who show such promise in tropical medicine. Most importantly, this award enables me to work for a year with Burmese refugees and migrants located along the Thai-Myanmar border. Before beginning medical school, I worked in public health in southeast Asia and had an opportunity to visit refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border. I was so taken by this experience that I decided to find opportunities to come back and work with this community for an extended period of time. Words cannot express how grateful I am to ASTMH and the Kean Fellowship committee for helping me actualize this dream.
What do you anticipate learning?
I have worked and lived in Asia on and off since 2007, working in public health. The proposed project is a study to identify factors that affect child undernutrition and stunting in this refugee/migrant community. This is a great undertaking for me both personally and professionally as I will be involved in the design, implementation, and analysis of the proposed research project, which I hope will lead to promising interventions to address child stunting in this vulnerable population. This project offers the opportunity to learn more about vulnerable populations, to engage with the community at a local and household level, and work to find viable solutions to health problems in resource-poor settings. I hope that this experience will develop my skills as a public health practitioner, which I intend to use throughout my professional career.
What interests you about tropical medicine and what problems are you interested in solving?
My most recent work in Cambodia involved diarrheal disease in the Greater Mekong region. This was an important experience for me personally and professionally, as I realized that factors impacting poor child health outcomes in the region extended far beyond the reach of clinical management of childhood illnesses. This greatly changed my perspective on health as I began to understand that the fundamental problems in tropical medicine—health access and equity—were problems readily present in our own communities in the US—communities like Galveston, Texas, where I attend medical school. With this in mind, I understand that work with vulnerable communities abroad has very real and practical implications for working with underserved communities here at home that also suffer poor health outcomes due to limited health access. These are the problems that are most compelling to me; I am grateful to have been awarded this fellowship. This project will develop my skills as a future physician and public health practitioner as I set upon the problems of health access and equity over the course of my career.
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