|Semester-long seminar teaches students about public health issues in Vietnam|
|February 24, 2012|
When a team of UNC undergraduates traveled to Vietnam in fall 2011 to take part in a semester abroad, they were able to connect real faces and stories with their study of the country's tumultuous history of health challenges and triumphs.
Through working with Vietnamese people, including health care workers and policy makers, students learned about health strategies and efforts the country is making to improve and sustain the public's health.
Trude Bennett, DrPH, associate professor of maternal and child health at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and the group's adviser, said that through the Burch Field Seminar on Public Health in Vietnam, students were able to place public health statistics in sociopolitical and cultural contexts.
Bennett collaborated with faculty members from the Hanoi School of Public Health and Hanoi National University to develop and teach a curriculum centered on participatory learning, including field trips, language instruction and interviewing projects.
"It is one thing to study the statistics of a public health problem and a totally different experience to observe the actual dynamics of the problem and all its ramifications, to see the human and social consequences of the problem, and to have personal encounters with those involved," said Bennett.
Students visited a hospital, injury prevention center and other sites to explore issues related to communicable disease, injuries, tobacco smoking, environmental hazards, and HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention efforts. They also participated in two extended field trips, one to a small city and one to a rural area, which highlighted cultural differences and health disparities between rural and urban populations.
"Perhaps the greatest benefits of studying public health abroad, in addition to the personal friendships and emotional associations, include coming to understand the complexities of issues and prevention strategies, gaining cultural humility in those circumstances, and acquiring deeper knowledge of the interconnectedness of public health in global settings," said Bennett.
Bennett has more than 10 years' experience working with the government, academic agencies and humanitarian groups in Vietnam. She is particularly interested in reproductive health and consequences of wartime herbicide use, as well as the impact of globalization on public health and health services.
Student participants from UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health included Burcu Bozcurt, Allison Cummings and Joey Parker, in health policy and management; and Maeve McGarry, Tara Seshan and Ann Suk, in environmental sciences and engineering. Five additional students from other UNC schools and departments also participated.
Read more about the students' experiences in Carolina Public Health magazine.
UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or email@example.com.
|Last updated February 24, 2012|