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April 9, 2007

MPH Students Help Establish Relationship with Nicaraguan NGOs

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2007 Student Study Tour - Nicaragua

Nine Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health students traveled to Nicaragua January 1-15, 2007, to establish the Nicaraguan Community Partnership (NCP). The effort, spearheaded by the School’s Master of Public Health (MPH) Program and the J.B. Grant Society, is a collaboration of the Bloomberg School of Public Health and Nicaraguan non-government organizations (NGOs). The students, accompanied by Paul Whong, Master of Public Health Program Manager, spent time building the partnership with three NGOs—SILAIS (Local System of Integrated Health Care), the Centro de Programas de Comunicacion Nicaragua and the Foundation for the Promotion and Development of Women and Children (FUNDEMUNI).

SILAIS, located in Nueva Segovia, is the equivalent of a state health department. The Bloomberg School students completed a household survey to gauge knowledge of disease transmission and prevention, specifically dengue fever. Their efforts contributed to the COMBI behavioral intervention project. The NCP has been asked to return in 2008 to complete a post-intervention survey.

The Centro de Programas de Comunicacion Nicaragua is working with at-risk youth to produce documentaries on HIV/AIDS, which will be broadcast nationwide. The MPH students ran youth focus groups in order to gain an understanding of the impact the videos might have. They also gave feedback to the project managers, which will assist with editing of the final videos.

The students were also able to provide feedback to FUNDEMUNI (Fundación para la Promoción y Desarrollo de las Mujeres y la Niñez) on their domestic violence and women's rights programs. FUNDEMUNI has requested further project and funding development assistance from the NCP in the future.

“The MPH Program expects students to obtain a significant practicum experience in population-based health prior to graduation. A practicum experience involves hands-on experience working and interacting with public health professionals. The two-week project in Nicaragua this past January is a model for a meaningful practical experience. I hope that this year's trip is one of many trips in the upcoming years of MPH students partnering with public health professionals in Ocotal, Nicaragua,” said Whong.

The nine Bloomberg School MPH students were extremely diverse; they included physicians, as well as part-time, medical, Juris Doctorate, Master of Business Administration and Master of Social Work students. The students were Monica Desai, Jocelyn Getgen, Simran Grewal, Maggie Hawthorne, Laili Irani, John Kuehnle, Deepali Patel, Anita Ray and Lauren Tingey.

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Kenna Lowe or Tim Parsons at 410-955-6878 or