In 2018, Sam Powers, CLAS, conducted research at the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE) in Rwanda. He worked as a research intern under Dr. Binagwaho, conducting a few projects to investigate several aspects of health system strengthening and health disparities. Founded by former Rwandan Minister of Health Dr. Agnes Binagwaho and Partners in Health co-founder, Dr. Paul Farmer, the University of Global Health Equity seeks to research innovative ways to provide equitable and quality healthcare in resource-poor settings while training the next generation of African medical leaders.
The main project was a detailed analysis of the faith-based healthcare system in Rwanda. For the past twenty-years, the Rwandan government has cultivated community ownership of its healthcare system by partnering with local organizations to put health centers in each district. Currently, faith based organizations comprise 30% of the healthcare infrastructure. But due to close coordination, the government funds 50% of those facilities’ operations. The faith-based institutions commit to providing the same care as public institutions, acting simply to extend the network of health throughout the country. Sam interviewed key faith-based and health sector leaders to evaluate perceptions of the program’s effectiveness and to document its role in the Rwandan healthcare system. Religious organizations provide a vital service in delivering healthcare to poorer and more remote Rwandan communities. Fueled by a religious desire to serve the poor, over 90% of faith-based healthcare facilities operate in hard to reach rural areas. This conclusion wove perfectly with the equity agenda developed at UGHE, showing that in resource-poor areas key partnerships with religious organizations can be a vehicle for providing a preferential healthcare option for the poor.
Additionally, in 2018 Onyedikachi Aligbe, Sarah Hour, both in the School of Medicine, worked collaboratively with Hannah Graham Memorial Award Scholar, Navya Annapareddy, on, “ Pregnancy with Cardiac disease in Rwanda”. The purpose of this research project was to understand the preventable causes of maternal death in Rwandan hospitals by analyzing the medical history of pregnant women with heart disease who were referred to the University of Rwanda allied hospitals. Additionally, they worked to identify the effects of cardiac disease during pregnancy on adverse fetal and neonatal outcomes. This research is a community priority, developed in order to propose possible interventions to lessen maternal and fetal risk.
The Sister Bridget Haase CGH Scholar Award supported three outstanding scholars in 2017. Emerson Aviles (MPH), Samuel Case (CLAS), and Gloribel Bonilla (MPH) conducted a project on Type 2 Diabetes at the Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE) in the Dominican Republic. Their work, mentored by two new UVA faculty mentors, will facilitate additional opportunities in rural and urban communities in the region.
In 2016, Yolande Bertille Pokam Tchuisseu, Mariana Forero, and Hala Al Kallas, all in the College of Arts and Sciences, were awarded the Sister Bridget Haase Center for Global Health University Scholar Award. Their project, "Determining the Cultural Acceptability and Feasibility of Self-Screening for Cervical Cancer in Bluefields, Nicaragua.” draws on the work of UVa faculty mentor, Emma Mitchell, in the School of Nursing.