UNC-IntraHealth Fellows Use Data and Research to Tackle Pressing Global Health Issues

This summer marks the sixth year of IntraHealth International’s partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC) Gillings School of Global Public Health. The two organizations team up every year to offer the UNC-IntraHealth Summer Fellows Program, through which graduate and doctoral students at the school get hands-on experience in the field of global health at an international nongovernmental organization.

Last month, four new fellows completed the program. Each worked side-by-side with IntraHealth experts to delve into projects that help address today’s most pressing global health concerns—including noncommunicable diseases, mobile health, health systems strengthening, and respectful maternity care—using real data and the most current research.

UNC-IntraHealth Fellows are chosen from a highly competitive pool of applicants. Over the course of 10 weeks, they work directly with IntraHealth’s programs around the world. Some past projects have focused on:

  • HIV
  • family planning
  • maternal and neonatal health
  • health systems strengthening
  • gender
  • digital health
  • health communications
  • monitoring and evaluation

Twenty-seven fellows have now completed the IntraHealth-UNC Summer Fellows Program since its inception in 2010. All graduate students enrolled at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health are eligible to apply. Applications become available each year in the fall. 

Meet the 2013 and 2014 UNC-IntraHealth Summer Fellows, too.


Meet the 2015 IntraHealth-UNC Summer Fellows

Rebeccah Bartlett

Rebeccah Bartlett

Rebeccah Bartlett

A nurse, midwife, and Rotary Peace Fellow from Canberra, Australia, Rebeccah Bartlett explored the global issue of respectful maternity care and how IntraHealth can help address maternal mortality and morbidity around the world. Her resulting literature review, advocacy brief, and recommendations will be a great asset as IntraHealth works with our country partners to improve working conditions for health workers and the quality of care their clients receive.

“Respectful maternity care is everyone’s responsibility,” Bartlett says. “If a woman can’t be protected and cared for at the exact moment she brings life into this world, when can she expect it?”

Over the course of her fellowship at IntraHealth, Bartlett worked closely with David NelsonMartha CarloughConstance NewmanLaura Hoemeke, Jennifer Wesson, and Nick Ford.

Before pursuing a master’s degree in maternal and child health, Bartlett researched reproductive health in refugee camps after World War II and volunteered in indigenous communities in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.  

Jean Lambert Chalachala

Jean Lambert Chalachala

Jean Lambert Chalachala

Jean Lambert Chalachala, a medical doctor from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is a Rotary Peace Fellow pursuing a master’s degree in maternal and child health. During his fellowship at IntraHealth, he analyzed health workforce data from the DRC, which the country manages using the IntraHealth-developed iHRIS human resources information system.  

Chalachala’s analysis uncovered several challenges within the DRC’s health sector, including ghost workers and an aging health workforce. A third of the country’s nurses, for example, are over 60 years old, the official age of retirement in the DRC. 

“Many should be retired,” Chalachala says. “And we will need new nurses to replace them. Working with these data at IntraHealth helped me to realize how important the management of human resources is.”

Chalachala worked closely with IntraHealth’s Leah McManus and Daren Trudeau throughout his fellowship.

Before beginning his studies at UNC, Chalachala worked as a clinician and head of hospital in rural DRC. He traveled around the country investigating and quashing suspicious outbreaks—some of which turned out to be nothing, but many of which proved to be meningitis, typhoid fever, and even Ebola.

Yanica Faustin

Yanica Faustin

Yanica Faustin

A doctoral candidate in the department of maternal and child health, Yanica Faustin’s fellowship work focused on noncommunicable diseases—by far the leading cause of death in the world—and the role nongovernmental organizations can play in addressing them.

“IntraHealth has a comparative advantage as a leader in digital health and health systems strengthening,” she says, “especially in relation to the health workforce.”

Faustin worked closely with IntraHealth’s Kris Horvath and Barbara Stilwell to conduct a literature review and develop recommendations in line with the World Health Organization’s objectives to reduce noncommunicable diseases by 25% by 2025.

While earning her master’s degree in public health, she worked with the African Services Coalition, the Wayne County Health Department, and the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Previously, Faustin worked at the Center for Global Health at RTI International on projects related to maternal and neonatal health, tuberculosis, and drug development.

Christina Villella

Christina Villella

Christina Villella

Christina Villella, a master’s student studying health behavior at UNC, delved into the growing field of mHealth—or the use of mobile devices in medicine or public health. She mapped mHealth programs related to family planning; immunization; and maternal, neonatal, and child health to show how mHealth is being used in each of these areas, as well as to identify the gaps in its effectiveness.

“Mobile phones have the power to reach people in places that electricity and roads don’t yet reach,” she says. “The potential to harness this connectivity for better health is there.”

Villella worked closely with IntraHealth’s Amanda PuckettLeah McManus, and Dana Singleton to create recommendations for taking mHealth programs to scale beyond their pilot phases—where most mHealth initiatives become stalled.

Before beginning her studies at UNC, Villella worked at RTI International and as a full-time volunteer in a community health center in Washington, DC, where she taught health education classes, managed clinic policies, and assisted with electronic health record implementation.

Photos by Rebecca Aguie for IntraHealth International.

Meet the 2014 UNC-IntraHealth Summer Fellows.

Meet the 2013 UNC-IntraHealth Summer Fellows.