Adam VanDeusen - Kumasi, Ghana
Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology at YSPH
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.
Adam VanDeusen - Kumasi, Ghana
Showing images 0-0 of 0.
- The medical charts office at Suntreso Government Hospital’s HIV ward is short on space, but the charts stay well organized.
- During downtime, Adam volunteers at an HIV clinic; his tasks include helping patients find identification cards and counting drugs.
- Children in the city are happy to help with data entry.
- Adam presents his findings to clinical data managers from the Ashanti region.
- A large portion of Adam’s internship is spent reviewing medical charts (as many as 50 a day) of HIV-positive women.
- Prior to his internship starting, Adam volunteered for one month with a nonprofit organization called Unite For Sight in Ghana. He spent this time screening patients’ visual acuity, interviewing patients to assess poverty levels and shadowing cataract surgeries.
- With his internship preceptor, Dr. Thomas Agyarko-Poku, a physician who specializes in HIV, serves at the regional coordinator for the National AIDS Control Programme and is a lecturer at a university in Kumasi.
- Not all data comes from medical charts. To obtain some figures, Adam travels to the regional office of the Ghana Health Service.
- Funerals are a very important facet of Ghanaian life; they last several days and everyone from the community attends. Here, women carry gifts to present to the family of the deceased.
- Cape Coast is a beautiful town with a devastating past; the town was one of the major shipping points for the slave trade.
- During an outing with other volunteers, Adam gathers the courage to touch a crocodile! Its skin is much softer than expected.
- A sign reads “Goodbye, Stay Healthy” as one exits the Komfo-Anyoke Teaching Hospital, the largest hospital in Kumasi.