Last fall, U-M SPH welcomed 18 Millennium Promise Program Scholars from Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The scholars were funded under a research training grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, which enabled them to learn from U-M and SPH faculty for a full semester while furthering their own research. Each scholar's research involved one of a number of distinct topics surrounding chronic non-communicable lung diseases associated with environmental and occupational exposures.
The scholars—ten doctoral students and eight senior scientists—took part in a variety of courses, including a specially designed mentoring course that "unpacked a variety of topics, including the qualities of a good mentor," said Joy Kistnasamy, a scholar from South Africa. The two qualities that stood out most for her were empathy and kindness.
The scholars also audited a number of standard public health courses and had the opportunity to learn alongside SPH students. Many of the scholars said this demanding yet rewarding experience had changed the ways they would conduct their work on environmental health in the future, as well as how they would approach the field of public health at large.
Nkosana Jafta, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
"I was prepared for the fast life in the U.S., but Ann Arbor is much laid back, and it's easy to get on with what you want to do."
Focus: The association between tuberculosis and indoor air pollution
Julita Maradzika, University of Zimbabwe, College of Health Sciences
"How do you put in place a workplace program? How do you motivate workers to take care of their health? Coming here to me is part of strengthening our capacity to teach and to interact with other people."
Focus: Occupational health promotion
Simon Mamuya, University of Muhimbili, Tanzania
"I enjoyed the writing course here—writing is part and parcel of my life. The mentoring course was also very important."
Focus: Indoor air pollution, especially cook stoves and women and children's health; exposure and respiratory health problems among Tanzanian workers
Paulino Chamba, Mozambique
"Ann Arbor is calm and tranquil. There is a good ambience—but it's cold!"
Focus: Work-related asthma among workers in the wood-processing industry
Patrick Hayumbu, Copper Belt University, Zambia
"Here I can see the ways we can help improve the respiratory health of miners in Zambia."
Focus: Respiratory diseases in Zambian copper miners
Hussein Mwanga, Tanzania; University of Capetown, South Africa
"There are a lot of academic resources in the U.S. I'm learning a lot."
Focus: Work-related asthma among health care workers
Camillo Fungai Chinamasa, Department of Community Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of Zimbabwe
"Being away from my usual routine has been very constructive. The daily routine does not give you enough time to stand back and reflect. I call this a retreat—it has allowed me to recast what I've been doing and project forward what I would like to be doing."
Focus: Pneumoconiosis among workers in Zimbabwe
Emmy Nkhama, Chainama College of Health Sciences, Zambia
"I've received a lot of positive input on my research project."
Focus: Cement dust exposure and respiratory health
Jose Mirembo, Mozambique
"It's my first time here, and I'm learning a new style of academic living and teaching methodology. It's really a good thing to be here—we are getting a lot of improvement."
Focus: Respiratory diseases among farmworkers
"Global health and local health are not opposites. They're really part of the same spectrum, and what we learn abroad can give us lessons right back at home. Sometimes I've heard it referred to as ‘glocal'—global and local, if you will. These equal partnerships are the same, and I've learned so much by working in the field, shoulder to shoulder, to see how people think differently about exactly the same intervention. So those equal partnerships are quite critical. … The scientific frontiers are really global, they're not local." —Roger Glass, Director, Fogerty International Center, National Institutes of Health
Roger Glass made these remarks at last fall's schoolwide symposium, "Capacity Building for Global Health." Attended by more than 600 SPH students, staff, and faculty, the day-long event included sessions devoted to the many links between global and domestic public health issues and interventions. Says Tom Robins, director of the school's Global Public Health Initiative, "We structured the symposium to emphasize that the United States is very much part of the globe, and that key principles and approaches—such as transparent and coequal partnerships, respect for involved communities, a focus on sustainable capacity building, and the need for highly interdisciplinary methods—apply equally to work with low- and middle-income countries and with disadvantaged communities in the U.S." Robins terms the symposium a "culmination" of the work achieved during the initiative's first full year of activity.