Q&A with Humanitarian Health Initiative Intern Doreen Ankamah
Morghen Philippi, graduate research assistant for Research, Innovation and Global Solutions, interviewed Doreen Ankamah, MPH Candidate in Maternal and Child Health, about her Humanitarian Health Initiative Internship.
What was your background before enrolling in the MPH program at Gillings?
Physician (Trained in Ghana, practiced for 5 years prior to grad school)
Will you tell us more about your work with the Gillings Humanitarian Health Initiative?
I work with Dr. Dilshad Jaff and Professor Sheila Leatherman by assisting to develop evidence-based interventions that are effective and feasible within the South Sudan context to improve access, safety, and effectiveness of health care. My job includes, but is not limited to, conducting a situational analysis by reviewing data, reports, documents, and communications from relief agencies in the field. Ultimately, we hope to develop a technical paper/publication that applies the WHO Framework for Action in fragile, conflict affected and vulnerable (FCV) settings to South Sudan. Finally, I am also assisting in designing a study aimed to assess access and quality of mental health services and the challenges and barriers faced by psychiatrists and psychotherapists working in Kurdistan.
How did you become interested in humanitarian health?
During my practice, I had the opportunity to work with refugee and displaced populations in Ghana. Together with my team, we organized health outreaches at the refugee camps to screen for common diseases, supplied some medications and referred certain cases for specialist management. It was heartbreaking to note the unequal burden that various preventable diseases placed on these vulnerable populations. Many of the cases we encountered were in the later stages of disease progression as individuals had poor health seeking behaviors coupled with limited access to health care. It was at this point I became very passionate about humanitarian health hence my decision to embark on a career in public health.
How has your internship with the Gillings Humanitarian Health Initiative impacted you?
The internship has provided me a hands-on opportunity to work in a real-world humanitarian setting thereby better appreciating the challenges and emerging problems faced not only by displaced populations but humanitarian actors as well. With this internship being in line with my interests, I am also acquiring so much knowledge and practical experience from professionals in the field which would be useful to me in my future career. Finally, being a part of this worthy course to improve quality of care among these vulnerable populations gives me a sense of personal fulfilment.
If you could eat dinner with any celebrity – alive or dead – who would you eat dinner with?
Chadwick Boseman. I admired him greatly for inspiring a generation in his role in Black Panther and mostly importantly for his ability to persevere and not allowing his illness to hinder him. His determination has encouraged me to always press on despite the obstacles and challenges because “it always seems impossible until it is done”.