IIP Placements in Sierra Leone
Location: Kono District, Sierra Leone
Wellbody Alliance is a community-based healthcare organization operating a large primary care center and managing a corps of 100 community health workers who link patients to facilities in some of the most remote villages in the region. Wellbody is one of the only facilities to provide comprehensive primary care that is completely accessible to the poor in Sierra Leone, and it currently serves 30,000 patients per year. Wellbody works closely with the Sierra Leonean government and plans to transform its clinic into a hospital-level facility in the next year. IIP interns will be fully exposed to the organization’s operations in Sierra Leone, and are typically assigned to one community-based program to conduct intensive ethnographic research, assist with quantitative data collection and analysis and lend advice on program planning and implementation. Current community-based programs serve HIV patients, amputees and civilian war-wounded, pregnant women and children and, with the support of the World Health Organization, tuberculosis patients. This is an intense and eye-opening IIP internship providing direct exposure to the challenges, successful models and realities of community-based healthcare delivery in a “ground zero” for global health. Current projects that the IIP intern could be involved in are:
- HIV Program: This IIP intern would accompany community health workers on their daily rounds to HIV patients, collect life-stories of these patients and work with project managers to compile “needs-assessment” files for each patient. The IIP intern would then work directly with the project managers to assist in the design and structure of home-based care programs for new patients.
- TB Program: This IIP intern will accompany community health worker supervisors and community health workers into the field as the screen communities for signs of tuberculosis, provide home-based treatment and trace social contacts of TB patients. The IIP intern will get an in-depth knowledge of all levels of the district-wide TB program, and through such observational research identify challenges in implementation and data collection. The IIP intern will also work with Monitoring and Evaluation staff to assist in the creation of quarterly and annual reports for the World Health Organization and other funders.
- Maternal and Child Health: This IIP intern will shadow community health workers and nurses at partner government clinics as they make their rounds to evaluate pregnant women in their homes and recruit them to deliver in facilities. The IIP intern will also assist in the design and opening of our Delivery Center at our clinic—assisting in the development of patient records and data tracking systems, working to integrate our antenatal care and obstetrics services, and assisting in the planning process to turn our delivery center into a referral facility for the District. The IIP intern will get an in-depth exposure to the realities of healthcare inequities and the challenges of the Sierra Leone Free Healthcare Initiative in a region with the highest child mortality rate and the third highest maternal mortality rate in the world.
- Amputees and War-Wounded: This IIP intern will collect life stories and assist in qualitative and quantitative needs assessments of amputee resettlement communities in Kono for civilians wounded during the country’s civil war. This will involve assisting in case management and working alongside community health workers to link amputees to prostheses services and physiotherapy, and evaluating and managing our existing amputee livelihood programs.
While these are Wellbody's four areas of focus, IIP interns will have exposure to a wide range of public health issues, nonprofit management, clinic operations and collaborations with the government healthcare system. IIP interns will also all be expected to take on one project of direct service to the organization, usually fundraising related: blog-writing, newsletter creation, social media or graphic design assistance. IIP candidates with interests in global health, economics, policy, biology, epidemiology, anthropology, and/or history are encouraged to apply. Skills and knowledge in epidemiology, qualitative methods, and graphic design would be an asset. Four placements were created for International Internship Program (IIP) interns. Katie Hsih '10 and Chris Yarnell '10 wrote blogs while they interned at the Global Action Foundation in Sierra Leone during Summer 2009.
This internship is offered in partnership with the Program in Global Health and Health Policy and can be used by GHP juniors for completion of the GHP Summer Research Requirement (please check the appropriate box on your application). View a Powerpoint presentation (.pdf) by a past intern.
Previous work responsibilities (in the words of the previous IIP interns): Intern 1: Ethnographic research on community reception, clinical functionality and health care structure. Data collection, input and analysis. Writing grant reports. Program evaluation. Website/newsletter articles. Intern 2: Administrative and social media work in the clinic. Shadowing at the clinic and community health care workers in villages. Inventory and distribution of donated resources. Interviews and surveying in villages. Intern 3: Conducted daily rounds on Wellbody Clinic’s HIV patients to monitor treatment plans and symptoms. Surveyed HIV patients for thesis research on political attitudes of vulnerable populations. Compiled data for the TB Reach program to apply for World Health Organization Grant renewal. Organized fundraising events and submitted editorials to Wellbody’s Voices of Kono series and newsletter. Intern 4: Office organization of medical records; Conducting field interviews with patients and family members to assess the impact of a health intervention; Population surveys of villages to determine demographics and numbers of residents; Creation of fundraising materials; Grant editing; Blog post writing.