University of Montana student works with Akros in Zambia for her practicum

University of Montana student works with Akros in Zambia for her practicum

By Maswabi Precious Matantilo on November 20, 2014 in Capacity Building, Health Data Systems, Water and Sanitation Health

Akros has recently begun partnering with university graduate programs to offer practical knowledge and experience to students with an interest in health around the world. Annie Glover, a Masters student in Public Health at the University of Montana in the United States is one of those students, and has been in Zambia for the past month. “I have always wanted to pursue public health, meet new people, experience new culture and give back to society” said Glover.

Annie’s time in Zambia was spent learning the intricacy of the work community health workers and volunteers do. Her work also involved identifying avenues that Akros can use in collaborating with other like-minded organisations in order to increase its efficiency and effectiveness.

To accomplish this, she travelled to Choma and Kazungula. While in Choma, Annie met with district health providers, malaria district focal persons and community volunteers from various programmes that include HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis and malaria. She described her interaction with community volunteers through focus group discussions as informative and encouraging as observed from the volunteers’ sense of passion and commitment to their work. In describing the work that traditional birth attendants do, she noted that they were unappreciated and underutilised. “Traditional birth attendants are unappreciated. Though they play an important role escorting pregnant women in labour to the clinic, I believe they can do more,” said Glover. “They can be used as focal persons in the dissemination of behaviour change communication information that is cardinal in improving the health of pregnant mothers such as on nutrition and the importance of sleeping under an insecticide treated mosquito net,” she noted.

Annie Glover (far right) meets with Community Health Workers in Zambia's Choma District as part of her practicum work with Akros.
Annie Glover (far right) meets with Community Health Workers in Zambia’s Choma District as part of her practicum work with Akros.

While in Kazungula, Annie attended a chiefdom orientation under the Water and Sanitation program where she observed how chiefs play a leadership role in ensuring adequate sanitation for their chiefdoms. She stated that it was impressive to see how community leaders who included headpersons engaged in trying to remove the stigma associated with open defecation.

Prior to her studying public health, Annie worked as victim advocate at an organisation called Victim Options in the Campus Environment, “Voice Center” for short, where she worked with women subjected to gender based violence and sexual assault. She has also in the past worked with other organisations on programmes related to reproductive health and drunk driving.

Motivated by her mother who is a public health specialist, Annie has an interest in infectious diseases prevention. She says when she heard of Akros’ initiative to partner with graduate programmes at the University of Montana, she became interested. “Akros has a good mission of providing data-based decision making to its stakeholders and it supports healthcare without trying to replace it. That is what made me apply,” she said.

Annie called upon students from University of Montana to consider applying for the programme in the future. She termed it as beneficial in exploring new ideas and a good source of knowledge exchange.

About Maswabi Precious Matantilo

Precious Matantilo is an Advocacy and Communications Officer for Akros and is a Global Health Corps fellow for 2014/2015. Before joining Akros, Precious worked for the Commonwealth Youth Programme as programmes assistant. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies from the Zambian Open University.