Adam VanDeusen - Kumasi, Ghana

Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology at YSPH
Downs Fellow

Career goal: To become an optometrist and work to improve quality of life among those who have low vision or are blind by integrating epidemiologic principles with techniques utilized in health care management and operations research.

Internship outline: I interned with the Ghana Health Service, performing research on cost-effectiveness of expanded therapy for HIV-positive pregnant women. Ghana has made incredible strides in reducing the incidence of HIV among its population, and this project seeks to further decrease infection rates and improve health outcomes for mothers and children. During the project, I reviewed over 800 charts, extracting data on variables such as number of pregnancies, disease progression and disease co-morbidities. I then analyzed data to compare costs and outcomes associated with the current therapy, as well as a proposed enhanced therapy.

Value of experience: This internship helped me understand realistic applications of principles and techniques learned in the classroom. Instead of having data provided to me with instructions on how to analyze it, I was collecting, managing and analyzing the data on my own. I enjoyed discovering how data-intensive projects can have social implications and can also face limitations in the project’s setting. For example, although expanded therapy among HIV-positive pregnant women sounds beneficial, the Ghanaian health care system is challenged by drug shortages, incomplete drug adherence and other issues that impact the efficacy of such recommendations.

Best moment: My most memorable experience was attending some Master of Public Health classes on HIV at a local university where my preceptor teaches. I really enjoyed comparing the students, professors, and overall academic experience at that university with my experiences at YSPH.