Undergraduate public health students broaden horizons studying abroad in Tanzania

J'Leigha Long, Reporter

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The undergraduate program in the department of public health at Marshall University organized a student trip to Tanzania this past summer to help improve child and maternal health.

During the trip, 10 students administered more than 100 free health screenings on women and children, including general pediatric, tuberculosis, HIV and prenatal care.

Monika Sawhney, director of the undergraduate public health program said the trip offered a hands-on learning experience for students.

“Our public health students were able to learn all about the Tanzanian health care system with special emphasis on child and maternal child health,” Sawhney said in a press release. “They had the opportunity to learn about pressing health issues and gain practical experiences in a global setting.”

Senior Minal Patel said during her time in Tanzania, she learned there are many levels of health care, but it must all revolve around the patient’s beliefs and local culture.

“Learning about the environment while studying abroad was unlike any other experience I’ve had since I began my college career,” Patel said. “This experience has opened up many doors when you plan on going into advancing your career in a master’s program.”

During the trip, students had the opportunity to explore aspects of the world they normally would not have the chance to examine.

“This trip wasn’t just about classwork and textbooks – we went into the field and visited hospitals, clinics and got a firsthand look into the Tanzanian health care system,” Patel said in a press release. “We were learning from them while helping them at the same time. This was a very interactive, hands-on learning experience — exactly what I needed to realize what public health is all about. I learned there are many levels of health care, but it must all revolve around the

local culture and their beliefs. Students should be interested in next summer’s trip because there will be no shortage of learning, exploration and adventure. Alongside seeing the real Africa and getting past all the misconceptions, you will learn so much about yourself. You gain insight into what you really want to do with your life.”

Michael Prewitt, dean of the College of Health Professions, said the trip is an opportunity students should definitely consider.

“I hope other students take the opportunity to see it’s a great program,” Prewitt said. “I also hope that other faculty encourages students to take advantage of these opportunities that, in many cases, will shape a lot of things that they end up doing in their career.”

There will be another Tanzania study abroad trip June 8 to July 12, 2015. Individuals interested in signing up before Jan. 20 can save $100. The final application deadline for the trip is Feb. 15.

J’Leigha Long can be contacted at [email protected]

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