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Changing lives with GHC fellowships

IN the hinterland of Masempela catchment area about 72 kilometres south of Kalomo town in the Southern Province, 29-year-old Kochelani Saili is seen busy conducting entomological surveillance on mosquito species.
A fellow of the Global Health Corps (GHC), midway to complete his one-year fellowship, Mr Saili also holds a bachelors of Science Degree from the University of Zambia (UNZA).
According to him, being a GHC fellow in Zambia has so far been so good especially that he is involved in the study of (entomology).
“My organisation, which is Path Zambia, operates in the Southern Province districts of Siavonga, Kalomo and Sinazongwe and as a fellow of GHC, I have actively been involved in most of its programmes especially that of studying mosquitoes,” he says.
Mr Saili says the activities he is involved in, as an employee of Path Zambia and a GHC fellow, are too numerous to mention and at the same time overwhelming.
In his busy schedule, Mr Saili is not only involved in entomological surveillance of mosquitoes but also participates in indoor residue spraying and training of community health workers in the same 12 catchment areas of the three districts in Southern Province.
He speaks highly of his achievements especially with regards to how GHC has changed his life.
“GHC has tremendously changed my life because all what I wanted to do has been fulfilled through this fellowship,” he says.
Another GHC fellow is 24-year-old Angel Chibuye, a UNZA sociology and psychology graduate. She reminisces how her life has changed after getting a one-year fellowship from GHC.
Her work stations are in Lusaka and Kafue. At Levy Mwanawasa Hospital and Nakonga Clinic in Lusaka, Ms Chibuye together with her co-fellow beneficiary Anna Abelson from the US, also working at the Population Council of Zambia, are actively involved in several women activities.
In Kafue, the two work at Kafue District Hospital and Juflone Clinic where they collect data from women who go to these health facilities to seek safe abortion services.
“We give the women information on family planning, safe abortion and also educate them on the consequences of pregnancies,” Ms Chibuye says.
As a GHC fellow, Ms Chibuye is also involved in randomised evaluation of HIV and family planning issues.
She says GHC has opened her eyes when it comes to issues of global health.
Nicole Maddox who holds a Master’s Degree in Public Service from Clinton School in the US, is another GHC fellow working with the Ministry of Health under the Disease Surveillance Control and Research.
She has been in Zambia under the GHC fellowship for about six months and says her experience in Zambia and the fellowship are simply great.
Ms Maddox says all her activities in the 10 provinces of the country have been quite challenging but educative.
“My stay in Zambia as a GHC fellow has been great. This fellowship gives an opportunity to promote health and it makes someone to realise that health is a right,” she says.
GHC began working in Zambia two years ago with young graduate professionals. It is globally led by former US President George W. Bush’s daughter, Barbara.
The organisation provides a year-long paid for fellowship for professionals bellow the age of 30 from diverse backgrounds and skills set to work towards promoting global health equity at existing health institutions and government agencies.
The organisation’s fellows are currently working in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia and the US.
GHC recruits placement organisations which are doing excellent work in improving people’s access to healthcare in impoverished communities.
Placement organisations identify the areas where GHC’s fellows are going to operate from.
GHC’s placement organisations range from grassroots to large global institutions. GHC recruits and selects highly qualified people with diverse skills for fellowship positions at placement organisations.
Accordingly, fellows have built financial management systems for grassroots HIV organisations in countries they operate in.
GHC Zambia programme manager Nchimunya Chiyombwe says his organisation always looks forward to expanding partnerships with non-profit and government agencies focused on increasing access to healthcare in the country.
Mr Chiyombwe says over the years, GHC has been expanding its fellowship cohort in Zambia and nearly doubled it last year.
GHC, according to Mr Chiyombwe, is on track to have more fellows serve in the country next year in issues of malaria, child health and national level research.
He says GHC has so far identified stellar partners that are doing incredible work and is happy that the fellows will have the opportunity to contribute and learn from these organisations.
Mr Chiyombwe says his organisation prides itself as being a community of emerging leaders who are building the movement for health equity.
“Our thrust is to look for fellows who are inspired to serve others and change the face of global health focusing on collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to learning and producing results. We can create new solutions to today’s global health challenges,” he says. GHC fellows work in pairs -one Zambian and one American- and for the 2015-2016 placements, the organisation has created new partnerships with local organisations, as there is strength in partnerships.
Mr Chiyombwe encourages young professionals in Zambia to take keen interest in the programme through applying for annual fellowships.