Fresh Voices From the Field: The Value of Our Global Health WorkPosted on by
This is the fourth in our ongoing “Fresh Voices From the Field” series, where we hear from ASPPH (Association of School and Programs of Public Health) Global Health Fellows working throughout the world. Global Health Fellows are recent Master of Public Health or Doctoral graduates placed in CDC global health offices in Atlanta and abroad. They work on a range of priority public health issues and bring a fresh perspective to CDC’s efforts in the field. (See other “Fresh Voices” blogs.)
Working at CDC headquarters in Atlanta is an amazing experience. And yet, sometimes, you can feel disconnected from the real world impact of the science that we spend all day discussing, refining, communicating, and implementing. So I was extremely grateful to have the opportunity recently to travel to Uganda to assist the CDC country team with preparation for a visit by CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden.
Although I had read the statistics, knew about our programs, and had become familiar with the major health issues in the country, I left impressed and humbled by what I experienced. I visited a rural village that had a recent outbreak of plague, where I met a small girl who had been diagnosed with diabetes, desperately in need of care and treatment, but miles from the nearest health facility. I was welcomed into the home of a family living in a tiny enclosed hut, filled with smoke from a cooking fire by which two toddlers quietly sat, and truly understood the urgent need for clean cookstoves. I saw people living in rural villages, without access to clean water. But I also saw how efforts by CDC and its partners are making a huge impact, not just for the health system as a whole, but for individuals whose lives have been changed. I saw the implementation of growing laboratory systems in the country, that are improving diagnoses of diseases, such as early infant diagnosis of HIV, and more accurate diagnosis for tuberculosis. I heard the story of a young woman who was raped and became infected with HIV, but who later had two children, both of whom were born healthy. I saw an eRanger, or motorcycle ambulance, rush into a maternal health clinic, carrying a pregnant woman whose delivery would be attended by skilled health workers.
The progress that is being made in Uganda is clear, but so too are the challenges. At a time when we know how to achieve an AIDS-free generation, when the scale-up of bednets to reduce malaria is affordable and achievable, when we can detect and prevent health threats such as Ebola and Marburg, and when simply providing transport to health facilities can significantly improve outcomes for both mothers and babies, I am both deeply aware of and re-inspired by the value of our global health work.
Chelsey Beane works in CDC’s Center for Global Health in the Office of the Associate Director for Policy. As part of her fellowship, she completed a rotation working on HIV/AIDS prevention research with CDC in Thailand. Her previous experience includes HIV/AIDS research in Honduras, strategic planning with Management Sciences for Health, health policy and advocacy in Australia, as well as a background in finance. Chelsey is originally from New Hampshire and has a BA in International Relations from Boston University and a MSPH in Health Policy and Management from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.