Imagine having the opportunity to use your skills and talents to help make a difference in the lives of others. That’s exactly what the Fellowship for Global Health program provides to our Fellows.
Each year, approximately 30 employees – each coming into this life-changing journey with a personal mission and objective – are selected to participate in the program and support the efforts of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Whether they’re looking for ways to engage with patients more closely, achieve hands-on experience or help address a health challenge that has impacted them personally, each Fellow benefits deeply from their assignment.
“The Fellows’ commitment to take on these significant global health challenges is profound,” says Carmen Villar, vice president, social business innovation. “Their personal journey is only part of this experience – the learnings the Fellows bring back contribute to our company’s future success and our ability to deliver innovative health solutions to patients and customers around the world.”
From 2012 to 2019, 220 Fellows from 37 countries have worked with 34 NGO partners. The program has touched thousands of lives in underserved communities around the world by developing and executing creative and sustainable solutions to some of the world’s most pressing health problems.
Inspired by the opportunity to contribute their expertise to address pressing health challenges, three Fellows – from China, the United States and Germany – are excited to share the details of their journeys. From their challenges and successes along the way to the people they’ll partner with, the Fellows’ stories will engage and inspire.
Challenge: Today, 60% more Africans die from cancer than from malaria, and this number of deaths is expected to increase almost 70% by 2030. To combat these alarming statistics, the Rwandan Ministry of Health is prioritizing timely access to cancer diagnosis and treatment for the people of Rwanda no matter where they live.
Solution: Nan and his colleagues, along with BIO Ventures for Global Health, are focusing on improving the country’s cancer patient referral system by establishing an inter-hospital communication system and supporting Rwanda’s Biomedical Center’s (RBC’s) implementation of the Rwanda Cancer Strategy.
“This experience is not only expanding my knowledge beyond my role in IT, it is improving my understanding of oncology and teaching me how to work in a different cultural environment. Although, the theory is sometimes easier than the reality,” says Nan. “It’s the end goal of improving cancer care for patients in Rwanda that motivates us every day.”
Challenge: In Tanzania, many pharmaceutical manufacturers have closed in recent years making the country heavily reliant on imports and susceptible to sub-standard medicines.
Solution: To help address this issue, Pooja and her colleagues are working with Purdue University and the Medical Missionaries of Mary to develop a business and implementation plan for a local pharmaceutical manufacturing plant to make medicines for Africans by Africans.
“Having the opportunity to work on a project that can positively impact the health and lives of the people of Tanzania is life changing,” says Pooja. “It takes diversity of thought and experience – and the inclusion of all stakeholders involved – to open minds to new possibilities and find innovative solutions to problems like this.”
Challenge: India is one of the countries with the highest number of human deaths due to rabies in the world, most of them due to bites from infected dogs.
Solution: It is possible to eliminate canine rabies through mass vaccination, community education and surveillance programs. Along with Mission Rabies, Julia is developing a sustainable and scalable strategy to add a dog rabies vaccination component to existing livestock vaccination campaigns, developing a strategy to ensure maximum participation by farmers in areas visited by the vaccination teams and helping raise overall awareness of the disease among rural communities.
"I am excited to be supporting Mission Rabies in their goal to eliminate rabies by 2030. This challenge combines my educational background in veterinary medicine and my experience in human health,” says Julia. “Developing a strategy to vaccinate dogs and protect the lives of children and adults will have a huge impact on rural communities in India.”