Ohio State public health students are breaking through the Buckeye walls to receive international perspectives through the College of Public Health’s travel scholarships.
Jessica Healy, a Master of Public Health student specializing in environmental health sciences, traveled to Maroua, Cameroon over the summer to evaluate cholera risk factors because of a recent outbreak in the local area. Healy worked in a team trying to determine which factors predisposed the community to the disease.
Healy said experiencing real world problems first hand allows her to better understand public health information.
“The experiences I had this summer will help me to apply new concepts that I will learn during the remainder of my studies to real world scenarios,” she said. “Cameroon has also given me very valuable experiences working in a developing country setting, where one often times has to be creative in coming up with solutions to public health issues due to limited resources.”
Healy said she loves studying infectious diseases not only because of their complexity and ability to spread, but also to discover how to contain or eliminate the diseases.
“I also have a passion for global health,” she said. “Putting these two passions together studying cholera in Cameroon was a great fit and allowed me to gain more experience both with studying waterborne infectious diseases, and public health in an international context.”
After graduation Healy said she hopes to continue working on a global scale with an interest in Latin America and Southeast Asia.
While Healy was researching in Africa, Ling Wang, a PhD student specializing in epidemiology, was studying smoking cessation medication in China.
Wang’s primary objective was to investigate the availability of smoking cessation medication and treatment offered in Changsha, Hunan, China.
Wang said she was able to collect high quality data from 217 pharmacies-- something that could never have been done in the U.S.
“This travel provided me with an opportunity to observe tobacco use issues and smoking cessation barriers in China which helped me to understand them much more thoroughly,” she said.
Wang said the experience in China substantially impacted her views on public health because it requires everyone in the society to make an effort, not just researchers, health care providers and hospitals.
“More efforts are needed to educate, inform and motivate smokers and their family members to promote smoking cessation,” Wang said.
Wang is using the research for her dissertation and with the connections she made on the trip she is already beginning to collaborate for next year’s project.
Wang’s and Healy’s trips, along with three additional public health students who traveled to India, Peru and Mkanga, Malawi, were made possible through college funds, including the Global Health Travel Fund. This fund was created to support faculty and students traveling to participate in research, field practice placements, and service learning, all focused on global public health.
“‘Thank you’ always seems so inadequate for the gratitude that I feel for the donors who have helped make my research project a reality,” Healy said. “It is a very humbling experience to have individuals believe in your potential enough to help give you a great start in beginning a future career.”