More than 300,000 pregnant women die each year from preventable causes because of little to no access to medical care. Twenty times that number, 6 million pregnant women, suffer from life-altering injuries every year. This fall, the Duke Global Health Residency Program (GHRP) welcomes two clinicians specializing in obstetrics and gynecology whose passion is to improve those odds one life at a time.
OB/GYN physicians Erin Dainty and Ayaba Worjoloh chose the GHRP at Duke because of its dual focus on clinical work and research. The 18-24 month program provides clinicians with advanced global health education and clinical training, which involves up to 12 months of intensive clinical work and research in a resource- poor setting. To date, the GHRP has enrolled 11 global health residents and fellows, produced four graduates, three academic publications (with several more in progress), five scientific presentations, and three NIH/Fogarty research funding awards.
The heart of the program is both its cross-departmental participation and reach around the world, recognizing that complex global health problems are far-reaching and require a collaborative approach. Currently, the program is made up of seven specialty areas and has international training sites in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Sites are being developed in Haiti, Rwanda, Nicaragua and Sri Lanka.
“Erin and Ayaba represent a growing number of post-graduate medical trainees who are committed to developing academic careers in global health,” said Nathan Thielman, director of the Duke Global Health Residency Program and infectious disease physician at Duke. “We’re particularly excited to engage clinicians in Women’s Global Health who can address key clinical, educational, and societal issues contributing to high maternal morbidity and mortality rates in East Africa.”
The program’s newest members bring extensive knowledge and international experience to Duke. Worjoloh completed her medical training at Duke, OB/GYN residency at University of California-San Francisco and master’s degree in public health at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her international experience spans Haiti, Honduras and the west African country of Liberia. Dainty completed her medical training at the University of Virginia and OB/GYN residency at the University of Pennsylvania, and has experience working in Ethiopia, the Dominican Republic and Zambia. Dainty also spent 10 years living in Kijabe, Kenya where her parents worked as missionaries.
Dainty will begin working in Eldoret, Kenya next June, and is eager to get involved in the site’s clinical and research activities on a more permanent basis. She will conduct research in the areas of cervical cancer screening in HIV positive women, management of the complications of incomplete abortions, and prevention of postpartum hemorrhage using the Bakri balloon. As part of the GHRP, Dainty is pursuing a Master of Science in Global Health (MSc-GH) through DGHI, which will help inform her research projects next year.
“It is important for me to have the MSc-GH degree because I do not have a well-developed research background,” said Dainty. “Because I want to make that a part of my career, it will be important for me to have intensive training in research methodology, particularly when I will be working in resource-poor settings.”
Worjoloh will audit courses in the MSc-GH program this fall, and then begin working in Moshi, Tanzania in January. Her clinical and research focus be on women’s health issues, such as maternal morbidity and mortality, cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine.
“I look forward to continuing to build relationships in East Africa and to figuring out ways to tackle issues related to maternal morbidity and mortality along with local providers and the community who is most affected,” said Worjoloh, who made her first visit to Moshi this summer. “This program opens your world to a breadth of professionals working internationally in multiple interesting arenas. It is inspiring, and I know these networking and learning opportunities will help to advance my career.”
Worjoloh will be working alongside Global Health Fellow and OB/GYN Ruchi Puri, who has been in Moshi for the past year, and describes her fellowship as career defining.