DRC physician wins Rotary fellowship to pursue UNC public health degree
|June 01, 2012|
The Duke-UNC Rotary Center, a chapter of Rotary International, has selected Adrien Lokangaka, MD, as a 2012 Rotary Peace Fellow. The fellowship will support his pursuit of a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) native was selected for his medical knowledge, extensive interest in public health research, and his integral role in the success of UNC projects abroad. He is the sixth fellow to attend UNC’s public health school.
According to The Rotary Foundation, Peace Fellows are leaders selected to advance national and international cooperation, peace and conflict resolution. Fellows earn master’s degrees in international relations, public administration, sustainable development, peace studies, conflict resolution or related fields. The fellowship covers the cost of tuition and fees, a living stipend, a summer internship, conference and research funding, and travel to and from the recipient’s home country.
“Lokangaka was recommended for this fellowship because he is inventive in performing public health research in a chaotic environment like DRC,” said Barbara Wallace, MPH, director of corporate, foundation and global partnerships at the public health school. “He’s intelligent, well educated, and has impressed UNC faculty members tremendously. A master’s in public health will increase his ability to contribute to efforts in DRC.”
Upon completing his degree, Lokangaka will return to DRC to continue his work with UNC’s projects.
Fluent in English, French and two Congolese dialects, Lokangaka is a physician at the DRC’s Kinshasa School of Public Health (KSPH) and has served as country coordinator for UNC-KSPH research studies for two years. During his tenure, the partnership has launched several projects, including educational strategies to improve traditional birth attendants’ skills to resuscitate newborns. This strategy, designed for birth attendants in rural areas, has reduced perinatal mortality by 15 percent.
Lokangaka also supervises an effort to improve village-based treatments of serious infections in young infants, most of whom have little or no access to hospital care. The initiative strives to reduce infant mortality. He also coordinates a nutrition study, facilitating the transition from breastfeeding to additional foods. The study team focuses on identifying more vitamin-rich foods from alternative local sources, including caterpillars, to stave off malnutrition.
“Dr. Lokangaka comes from a country torn by war and unrest for many years,” Wallace said. “Through the Peace Fellows Program, he’ll gain a combination of skills, learning and insights in maternal and child health and peace studies. This will uniquely equip him to return to the DRC to become a leader in public health and a contributor to peace through service. While here, his fellow students will benefit from his field-based experience and the insights he brings to global public health.”