Reality of Healthcare Structure in Nepal
Global Studies Scholarship Supports Student’s Practicum
Breaking out of what is often referred to as the “U.S. cultural cocoon”, Suzanne Lewis, who is studying for her master’s degree in public health at the Colorado School of Public Health, entered completely new realities of lifestyle and healthcare structures during her studies in Nepal. Lewis was able to participate in a faculty-led Global Health Practicum in the Nepal Winterim Program after receiving the Global Studies Scholarship, which is offered through the Office of Global Education, Office of International Affairs.
“I am working towards completing my Global Health certificate, so it was really important and valuable to have a global health experience that takes me outside of the classroom and into a real international setting,” explained Lewis.
Expansion in global communication, travel and trade has increased the need for clinical and public health professionals who understand health issues that transcend national and continental borders. Nepal is rich in culture, but challenged by a wide and varied range of complex health issues. Most Nepali people live in remote villages that are difficult to reach and lack public health services. As a result of these challenges, the people of Nepal experience several major health issues, such as malaria, HIV, and complex reproductive health issues that include the highest rate of uterine prolapse in the world. Faculty researchers, students, and community workers engage in research and program development to alleviate these and other health conditions.
Two years ago, Pamela Prag, CNM, MS, MPH, who is a Senior Clinical Instructor in the College of Nursing, was approached by Global Health Initiatives, a local non-profit that was doing work in Central Nepal to surgically intervene on behalf of women who had experienced uterine prolapse, an extremely common and debilitating health issue. Prag had developed a University of Colorado Denver course, Global Health Practicum, and was invited to meet with a college of nursing in Nepal that was seeking opportunities to build a partnership with a U.S.-based university.
“It was critical to me to develop a relationship that was a ‘win-win’ for both programs, and this seemed ideal,” said Prag. “Since that time, I have had the wonderful opportunity to begin the work of building a sustainable program that allows for students to collaborate in research and work in Nepal.”
The course was conducted for the first time in January 2014. Eight students from four different disciplines worked alongside Nepali students in collecting data; their research was presented to the Ministry of Health in Nepal. In April, two colleagues from Nepal visited the University of Colorado Denver to learn more about the CU educational system.
“It is my passion to give our students the opportunity to partner with other students from around the world,” explained Prag. “We have so much to learn from each other.” Another Global Health Practicum course will take place in January 2015.
Public health professionals throughout the world work to protect the environment, identify sources of illness in population groups, control disease outbreaks, evaluate economic impacts of changing demographics, and develop interventions to promote healthy behaviors. Public health draws from a broad array of disciplines, such as the social and behavioral sciences, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, business, economics, statistics, epidemiology, and biology.
CU Denver student Lewis chose to travel to Nepal because she felt the program topics that focused on women’s health and social justice issues were both personally interesting, as well as professionally relevant to her career trajectory.
“It absolutely connected all the dots from my global health courses and renewed my dedication to working to advance the health and status of underserved populations,” said Lewis.
Following graduation, Lewis plans to continue her studies in South America to continue to learn more about public health issues on a global scale.