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MentorNet Projects

MentorNet Projects

Global Stillbirth: A Crisis Left Invisible

Project by Urvi Rai, BSc – Mentor: Dr. Uzma Syed, MBBS, MSc

Dr. Syed and I have a shared interest in maternal and newborn health.  Through CSIH, I had the huge privilege of having Dr. Syed as my mentor and the opportunity to learn from her 20+ years of experience working in a global context, guiding innovation and scale-up of evidence-informed interventions. One critical issue we discussed during our mentorship sessions is that of global stillbirth. Targets for stillbirth have not been clearly outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, despite the high global burden of nearly 2 million stillbirths annually. Current rates of decline will not allow us to meet the target of 12 or fewer stillbirths per 1,000 total births by 2030, as outlined in the UNICEF and WHO led Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP). Of particular concern is that there are vast disparities in progress, whereby the global south carries the greatest burden, highlighting persisting global inequities.

Thus, for our MentorNet project, Dr. Syed and I chose to explore stillbirth as a maternal and newborn health issue. With guidance from Dr. Syed, I completed a review of literature on global stillbirth, including the latest UN-IGME report on stillbirth, to describe the issue and discuss key challenges that continue to hinder our progress toward ENAP targets. These include under reporting and inconsistent definitions that allow stillbirth to remain invisible as a public health issue. I highlighted risk factors across a mother’s lifespan, and described solutions proposed in the literature using a socio-ecological model. Thank you CSIH for this opportunity!

Urvi's poster 

Critically Considering Sources During Unprecedented Times

Project by Ragshica Sotheeswaran HBSc – Mentor: Caroline Marshall HBSc, MPH, DrPH

While writing a paper on the effects of Covid-19 on the provision of abortion services in India, I realized that I was not too sure where to start. COVID-19 is still fairly new and ongoing, which means that information is constantly being updated and changes every day. I found very few scholarly, peer-reviewed materials that discussed my topic and population of focus. Due to the constantly evolving nature of the situation, if you’re not cautious it can become easy to assume every new piece of information as fact or the common experience. While attempting to find information to make observations and decisions, the confusing and fast paced nature of this pandemic can inadvertently overlook those who are underrepresented. Yet, it is such hidden groups that are often in need of support. 

So came the questions, during an ongoing crisis where could I go to find information on my topic, and how can I critically analyze such sources? Recognizing that others might have the same experience, I’m sharing my suggested approaches. 

Ragshica's poster

COVID-19 and Global Pandemics

Project by Michael Pratte, BSc – Mentor: Dr. Molly Whalen-Browne, MSc, MD

The COVID-19 Pandemic is a global health catastrophe of unrivaled proportions. Its effects have been felt around the world, putting our skills in public health and disease control to the test. In collaboration with my mentor, we sought to create a module for the CSIH in order to help individuals learn about the unprecedented pandemic. What exactly is a global pandemic? How does it start? How do we help prevent and control them? All of these questions and more are addressed in our module!

Michael's full module 

Newborn Programming in West and Central Africa: A Review of Reports

Project by Hunster Yang, M.Sc., B.Sc. – Mentor: Aline Simen-Kapeu, Ph.D., M.D.

Improving child survival and newborn health continues to be a critical agenda in West and Central Africa (WCA). The Every Newborn Action Plan was published six years ago by the World Health Organization to guide countries in the implementation of newborn programs. Our joint work reviews existing global reports and assesses progress made by selected countries in WCA during the past five years. We found that countries have made great strides in ensuring that newborn action national plans are developed, costed, and set with clear targets for reducing neonatal mortality. Majority of countries have now put in place maternal death surveillance and response systems. Across the board, national essential medicine lists have been updated to include essential life-saving commodities and medicines for newborns. Moreover, countries have increased their investments in health workforce through competency and skills-based training and educational programs. 

However, some areas require more efforts, such as developing stillbirth national targets and national advocacy strategies. Upon disaggregation, we noticed that acceleration needs to be done in high-burden countries or countries in a humanitarian and fragile context. All of this is compounded with the COVID-19 pandemic where we are pushed back on our feet as the damage threatens to set us back on so many fronts. Thus, this analysis underscores key actions required not only to protect the milestones achieved by the countries, but to accelerate and secure the gains as the global international community all strive towards reducing neonatal deaths and stillbirths. 

Hunster's full review

Overcoming Homesickness  

Project by Cosmina Nistor – Mentor: Karen Joe, BSc, MPH

This is a guide to overcome homesickness when one is abroad, for studying, volunteering or working. Some quick tips and tricks that can provide stability and comfort in times of unfamiliarity.

Cosmina's full guide

Case Report: Telehealth Initiative Project in Koibarak Community, Markawet West Subcounty and Elgeyo Markawet County in Rural Kenya   

Project by Christine Saleeb, D.O.(c), MSc, BSc – Mentor: Asrat Dibabba Tolossa, MD, MPH

COVID-19 has worsened existing and exposed new healthcare challenges, especially in the weakest healthcare systems. Telehealth has been used to overcome some of these challenges, especially in African economies, such as Kenya. World Vision Canada’s ENRICH project has implemented a Telehealth Initiative to improve the well-being and reduction of life-threatening effects of COVID-19 on children and their families within targeted areas of rural Koibarak Community, the Marakwet West Subcounty and Elgeyo Markawet County in Kenya by June 2021. The Telehealth Initiative intervention highlighted in this case report, involved leveraging technology to spread preventative measures of COVID-19, distributing personal protective equipment (PPE), and facilitating Psychological First Aid services to all households. Overall, these efforts showed a proactive COVID-19 response and improved access to healthcare services. There were less cases of COVID-19 in these areas (cumulative 322) compared to the national average. Challenges arose, however, such as the limited resources for COVID-19 testing, reporting and logistics. Other challenges include the rising COVID-19 cases that will constrain the healthcare system, inadequate behaviour change, and lack of COVID-19 resources available for school reopening. Future directions to address these challenges include health system strengthening, possibilities of upscaling the telehealth initiatives, increasing local production of PPEs, ensuring a functional vaccine roll-out, and improvements to in-school precautions.

Christine's full case study

The Good Health Cafe 

Project by Nikita Boston-Fisher – Mentor: Matt Hughsam

I have a passion for plain language communication in health and healthcare and I started a podcast to do so called The Good Health Café. I interviewed my mentor Matt for an episode of the podcast as our final project. During the course of our mentorship time together we discussed the importance of mental health and the importance of breaking the stigma around it. Matt graciously agreed to be interviewed to share some of his experience seeking help for mental health and how the transparency of a mentor in his life inspired him to seek help.

Nikita's website

Nikita's podcast

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Project by Vesela Ivanova, BSc, MScPH Candidate – Mentor: Dr. Uzma Syed

I chose to create a module on SRHR because it was not part of the Mentornet curriculum, and I believe that it is an essential part of the global health field. My module aims to provide an introduction to SRHR in a global context and discusses the importance of supporting SRHR in global public health programs, with the aim of achieving the SDGs. The module also aims to inspire discussion on relevant SRHR topics within a human rights and social justice framework and to highlight disparities and inequities in achieving SRHR for all.

The module is divided in 3 parts:

  • Introduction to SRHR in the context of the SDGs
  • Key issues in Reproductive Health and Rights (abortion care, family planning, and contraception, menstrual health)
  • Key issues in Sexual Health and Rights (STIs such as HIV and HPV, Sex- and gender-based violence)

Vesela's full module

Immigrant and Refugee Health

Project by: Ogochukwu Udenigwe, Bsc, MSc. 

Around the world, immigrants and refugees have a unique set of needs and requirements when accessing health care services. As countries "open their doors" to newcomers, understanding the complexities of immigrant and refugee experiences will be critical to ensuring equitable access to healthcare. This module explores immigrant and refugee health in the Canadian as well as global context. Health status is not equivalent across all immigrants and refugee groups. Health is influenced by their place of origin and experiences and further impacted by postmigration factors related to integration into their new place of residence such as employment, education, and responsiveness of the healthcare system. This module is intended to examine the effects of the social determinants of health on immigrants and refugees. It also examines the processes through which various actors address the unique set of needs of immigrants and refugees at the local, national, and global levels. The articles should kick start some meaningful dialogue on the topic, your experiences, insights, and unique perspectives will continue the conversation! 

The objectives of this module are as follows:

  • To Identify individual, societal, and systemic determinants of immigrant and refugee health.
  • To understand considerations necessary to provide adequate healthcare to immigrants and refugees pre-and post-migration.
  • To discuss models and practices that are designed to reduce disparities in access to healthcare services in Canada for immigrants and refugees.

Ogochukwu's full module

Implementation Science in Primary Health Care

Project by: Ga Eun Lee, MScPH  – Mentor: Linda Beyer MSc (Planning), DPhil Candidate

Implementation science is gaining momentum in global health. Although implementation science has the potential to bridge the know-do gap in “real world” settings, the field is underrecognized and not well understood. With the aim of increasing awareness of this emerging field, we created an educational module on implementation science for the MentorNet curriculum. Motivated by the capacity of implementation science to improve primary health care, we focus on a case study from Nigeria where implementation science methods are used to increase the impact of home visits to pregnant women.

Ga Eun's full module

Primary Health Care (PHC) Webinar 

Mentor: Kay Wotton, MPH

A Primary Health Care (PCH) webinar has been created for health science students at Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda. The webinar is narrated in English by Dr. Gad Ruzaaza, Head of the Rural Placement Program. It was designed for use as part of student preparation for the annual Rural Placements in South West Uganda. The webinar has been arranged into two sections: Part 1 Elements of PHC and Part 2 Approaches to PHC.

The presentation features interactive techniques including engaging stories, quotes and vibrant African visuals. PowerPoint slides and talking notes have also been provided.

Supplementary document

webinar video (short version)