The Global Women’s Health Fellowship Fund

A message from Hanni Stoklosa, MD, MPH, director of the Global Women’s Health Fellowship.

The Global Women’s Health Fellowship at the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is dedicated to improving women’s health worldwide, transforming healthcare delivery, and addressing some of the most complex global health challenges facing women today. We hope you take great pride in the remarkable work made possible by your generous support.

2018 Updates from Current Fellows

Kirsten Austad, MD
Senior Global Women’s Health Fellow, Family Medicine
Improving Family Planning and Cervical Cancer Prevention in Rural Guatemala

How has your work progressed in the past year?
Through my project on delivery of family planning in rural indigenous communities, I have continued to train new nurses, increase services to underserved women, and have produced two manuscripts currently under review. I continue to collect outcomes data to understand the impact of this care model on uptake of family planning methods and long-term satisfaction. My cervical cancer project continues to progress as well, with a new focus on increasing care navigator services for HPV positive women referred through a new government screening program. I was also awarded a grant from Canada Grand Challenges to implement an innovative model to promote respectful maternity care and reduce maternal and neonatal mortality by training local women to offer emergency accompaniment to women planning to deliver at home with traditional birth attendants. The initial results are promising and we are seeking expansion funding.

What motivated you to enter the field of women’s health, and how is the Global Women’s Health Fellowship furthering your career?
There is transformative power in training marginalized women to provide high-quality medical care for other marginalized women. My work focuses on training local nurses and community health workers, building local capacity for research and quality improvement, and finding innovative ways to implement evidence-supported interventions. Through the fellowship, I have gained key skills to rigorously evaluate and expand global health delivery models. The mentorship has helped me become a better leader, and the protected time has allowed me to develop larger-scale projects, including a pending NIH grant.

How does your project stand to impact the global health challenges facing women today?
By developing innovative models for important women’s health issues, I hope to help overcome the logistical and resource barriers that prevent science from being applied into practice. My work centers around respectful reproductive care, understanding that women will be less likely to use family planning methods or deliver in a hospital if they perceive judgement, discrimination, or a lack of empathy from medical providers.

 

Naima Joseph, MD
Senior Global Women’s Health Fellow, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Enhancing Health Services Delivery for Women and Babies in Low Resource Regions

How has your work progressed in the past year?
My research has progressed immensely across two central components. The first uses multinational data sets to investigate disparities in health care delivery across low resource settings. My first paper in this area, submitted to the New England Journal of Medicine, finds that over 4 million deaths occur annually due to poor quality health care, and that almost 30% of these deaths are in maternal/neonatal health. The second component includes research on improving health care access and utilization. I am testing a mobile phone application to improve cervical cancer screening in Uganda. We hope this trial will inform future research into mobile based applications for prenatal, intrapartum, and postpartum care delivery. We successfully launched the trial in September and continue to collect follow up data.

What motivated you to enter the field of women’s health, and how is the Global Women’s Health Fellowship furthering your career?
My decision to pursue a career in obstetrics & gynecology was motivated by the intricacies of maternal care and pregnancy, as well opportunities to combat disparities in obstetric outcomes. Throughout my medical education I have pursued volunteer and research initiatives that allowed me to merge advocacy with clinical care to improve the health of women and their babies. As a fellow, I have been able to undertake evidence-based interventions that can change the lives of mothers in resource poor settings, while also leveraging this knowledge in my clinical practice to save the sickest women at critical junctures in their lives.

How does your project stand to impact the global health challenges facing women today?
My work shows that investments into improving the quality of maternal health care will have long lasting impact on the health of women and families and saves lives.

 

Wan-Ju Wu, MD, MPH
Senior Global Women’s Health Fellow, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Expanding Family Planning Initiatives in Nepal

How has your work progressed in the past year?
My project is progressing well. I made a trip to Nepal in the fall and plan to again in March in order to collect my data and begin my analysis. I will also be working closely with the local team to train additional community health workers, as Possible—the nonprofit health organization that I collaborate with on this work—is expanding to new sites. We are also exploring an additional qualitative project focused on reproductive health in adolescent girls.

What motivated you to enter the field of women’s health, and how is the Global Women’s Health Fellowship furthering your career?
I come to the field of women’s health from a reproductive justice perspective and a belief that women’s reproductive health issues have to be placed within the context of broader social determinants of health. The Global Women’s Health Fellowship has provided me the opportunity to build my project in Nepal, where I have established a strong working relationship with the local team and have learned a tremendous amount from being in the field with the community health workers. In the long term, I hope to continue to develop and build my skills in implementation science research. My experience as a fellow has given me a rich foundation to build on as I work toward that goal.

How does your project stand to impact the global health challenges facing women today?
My project improves delivery of reproductive health care services in remote, rural settings with challenging terrain. We hope that this model will be scaled and adapted to other similar settings in Nepal.

 

Cynthia Young, MD
Junior Global Women’s Health Fellow, Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine
Developing Gender-based Interventions for HIV+ Women in Uganda

How has your work progressed in the past year?
In the past year, I have analyzed data from a longitudinal cohort of women living with HIV in Uganda, to understand the burden and correlates of intimate partner violence in this population. I also completed the data collection for a qualitative study of a safer conception intervention being implemented in an HIV clinic in Uganda for HIV-serodiscordant couples, where one partner is HIV positive and the other is not. My team is now working on data coding and analysis to understand the program’s relevance, acceptability, and sustainability.

What motivated you to enter the field of women’s health, and how is the Global Women’s Health Fellowship furthering your career?
I have been interested in the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on women’s health for many years. While the negative effects of gender inequality on health are well-documented, interventions to address these issues are lacking, particularly for the resource-limited settings that are most affected by the HIV epidemic. The Global Women’s Health Fellowship provides me with critically important support to further this work as well as my career. The combination of salary support, mentorship, and education allows me to continue my research in Uganda, while expanding my research skills and mentorship team.

How does your project stand to impact the global health challenges facing women today?
Understanding how to effectively address gender inequality, particularly gender-based violence, is one of the great global health challenges of our time. My goal is to develop and test gender-based violence interventions within the HIV care system, to reduce HIV transmission, optimize HIV treatment, and improve the health of women and their families.