A JHSPH fellowship enabled Lydia Wilbard (MPH 2011) to gain a deeper knowledge of epidemiology and public health research methods so that she can more effectively address the health challenges that Tanzanian women face, including teenage pregnancy, maternal and child mortality, AIDS, and malaria. Lydia was an orphan who beat the odds by graduating with honors from Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences. She qualified for medical school but chose nursing as the best profession to work with rural girls. With support from Tanzania’s government and the U.N. Development Program, she built a 300-member network of young rural women and trained them in health awareness and economic skills to set up successful local businesses. She also led youth training programs in adolescent reproductive health and HIV/AIDS awareness.
Lydia is the personification of why policies in international health are starting to focus on girls as agents of change. She now serves as co-director of CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education) in Tanzania. The organization enrolls 1,000 girls each year as they begin secondary school and assists them in completing their education over the next four years. Nearly 90% of program participants graduate, which helps them to become economically independent and maintain higher levels of health and nutrition for themselves and their families.
Lydia is poised to powerfully influence decisionmaking at levels from the village to the Tanzanian Ministry of Health. With alumni like Lydia, the Bloomberg School continues to establish research and training networks in Tanzania and other developing countries. USAID praised us as “a perfect place for Tanzania's best emerging public health professionals to flourish given the strength of the program, the strong alumni support in Tanzania, and the wealth of Johns Hopkins’ existing research interests in Tanzania.”