I currently work in the area of global health for a private organization in Washington D.C. where we collaborate with clients around the world on health-related projects.
My role is specifically in research and evaluation: by analyzing data from surveys, I seek to understand patterns in health outcomes and try to understand the causes.
For the past three years, one of my projects has been with an organization based in Geneva, Switzerland called Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI). The role of GAVI is to expand access to vaccines and immunization in developing countries.
My Work With GAVI
Vaccines must be refrigerated to be most effective, so in order for countries to provide vaccines to their citizens, they need a proper refrigeration system available at all levels of the health system. This includes the national level, regional depots, and health centers that offer immunization services.
For Gavi, I am leading a team that is evaluating a new approach to providing cold chain equipment (refrigerators and freezers) to governments in Kenya, Pakistan, and Guinea to meet their immunization needs.
In the past, the governments in these countries were in charge of purchasing and installing all the refrigerators themselves. GAVI is working with other partners to negotiate reasonable prices for the equipment as well as working with non-government dealers for delivering and installing refrigerators in health centers across each country.
During this three-year project, as part of the research and evaluation role, I will understand whether these changes in refrigeration improved the vaccine quality in the country, whether more vaccines have been administered through the new program, how to improve the program and whether this new system is having a positive impact.
Understanding these issues is all the more important today in the context of COVID-19 to see that health centers have the ability to maintain all vaccines at the right temperatures for them to be effective.
My Advice To Readers
While my field may be challenging at times, I know that my work is being used to solve larger issues in the world. During this COVID-19 pandemic, we can see first-hand how health centers and vaccines are so important to population health. My work experiences are incredibly rewarding and I feel as though I am making a real difference working at a level that influences policies and implementation of health programs.
My best advice to readers is to expose yourself to as many different fields as possible to see what piques your interest. If you can approach every task or experience with an open mind, you will be able to discover what truly interests you.