UMB Team Travels to Malawi to Renew Interprofessional Work Abroad
Students representing each of the professional schools at the University of Maryland, Baltimore
(UMB) have begun a six-week course of interdisciplinary study in
Malawi. The students departed June 13 from Baltimore/Washington
Thurgood Marshall International Airport, bearing not only backpacks and
luggage but supplies for public health outreach.
School of Dentistry student
Peter Krumbhaar, for example,
was maneuvering through the Delta baggage check-in process with a large
bundle of office supplies for the group's activities. Once
abroad, he said, he hopes to use his passion for his field to teach
basic public health.
The Malawi Project is
sponsored by the University's Global Health
Interprofessional Council (GHIC). Created to promote international health education, research, and
service with a focus on interprofessional growth and engagement, the
GHIC has now supported four experiential education projects in Malawi.
The 2013 team is focusing on two endeavors: working with a law
school to develop a collaboration around both the Maryland and Malawi
HIV legal clinics and conducting participatory research activities in a
rural village in Malawi. The latter will be in preparation for a study
being developed by one of the faculty advisers, Miriam Laufer, MD, MPH, who is the
leader of the summer interprofessional experience.
"This year we are following up on two exciting results of our
experiences in Malawi over the past several years," says Laufer, an
associate professor at the School
of Medicine. "We have developed a close relationship with
Chancellor College of Law in Malawi and now are exploring opportunities
to link the HIV legal clinics that exist at both our institutions. In
the second part of the summer program, the students will follow up on
the links we have established with the rural health centers in
Chikhwawa, one of the poorest districts in Malawi, and will be helping
our research team develop community-based programs that focus on
malaria detection and prevention."
The group will employ a community-based interactive model for
Participatory Analysis for Community Action (PACA), a key component of
which is generating a participant-based community map.
In keeping with its interprofessional approach, the University's Malawi
project is overseen by faculty members from various schools who rotate
during the summer. Starting off are professors at the Francis King Carey
School of Law. Diane Hoffmann, JD,MS,, director of the School's Law and Health Care Program,
traveled with the students from Baltimore on the initial legs of the
trip. She is shown above in a photo taken shortly before departure. The
group flew first to Atlanta and then on to Johannesburg, South Africa.
There, they met up with Peter
Danchin, JSD, LLM, LLB, director of the School's International
and Comparative Law Program, who joined the group for the final leg to
Blantyre, Malawi. After completion of the HIV legal clinic activities,
the UM Carey Law faculty will hand off to Laufer, who will introduce
the team to the rural community where she has been working for several
years in southern Malawi.
"The students gain a much better understanding of responsibilities of
each other's disciplines," says Olsen, "and they return from each
six-week project with new perspectives of how interprofessional health
teams can affect change both for individual patients and for their
families and communities. Experiencing a completely different
health care setting, such as that in Malawi, students rethink some of
their practices here at home."
Judith Porter, DDS, MA, Ed,
associate professor at the School of Dentistry, will supervise the team
for the final weeks in Malawi, during which they will be providing
feedback to the community where they have been working and preparing a
final report. They are scheduled to leave Malawi at the end of July.
On June 16, within a day of the group's arrival in the primarily rural
nation in southwestern Africa, the team went to a tea plantation and
made its way to a mountaintop. Meanwhile, the team members also had
begun posting on the UMB
Malawi project Facebook page ,
seeking support for efforts to repair the Mfera Health Center in rural
Malawi, The goal is to spare women and their newborns from lying under
a leaky roof during the rainy season.
The student participants were selected based on both their interest in
international research and commitment to interdisciplinary work. In
addition to Krumbhaar, a dental student in the Class of 2015, the
Malawi team is made up of Sharmala
McCoy, a law student in the Class of 2015; Samantha DuFlo, a
student in the School of Medicine's Department of Physical
Therapy & Rehabilitation Science, Class of 2014; Sheila Razdan, a medical student in
the Class of 2016; Brandon Fleming, a School of Pharmacy student in the Class of 2015; Mirna Chicas, MS;
a member of the School of
Nursing Class of 2013; and Tamlynne
Kelley, MSW, a member of the School of Social Work Class of
2013. Both Chicas and Kelley are completing work in the
Health Certificate Program.
The team brings each profession's skills to the collaborative venture.
In 2010, the inaugural interdisciplinary team performed a needs
assessment of orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) in the Salima
District, Malawi. In 2011, students carried out an
interdisciplinary assessment of health utilization behavior for malaria
illnesses. This is part of a larger University of Maryland study to
conduct surveillance of the burden of malaria disease in several
different regions of Malawi. In 2012, students worked together on a
six-week study of maternal/child health services.