January 21st, 2022
I have delayed writing this all day because I honestly cannot believe I am at the end of week three. I have absolutely loved working here and I am really proud of my work. Today I finished typing my report after a final week of essential interviews. My three takeaways from this overall experience is that first, there are always more things that institutions can do in order to further the outcomes of a population. Vermont is a state that does really well across different indicators but seeing how much resources they invest is a testament to how institutions of health seem to strive for the perfect health of all people. That being said, the absence of disease may be impossible to achieve for various reasons. A lot of what I worked on surrounded health education and I think the future of health education will aim to give all people a true understanding of how to make healthy decisions, available resources, and different consequences so that people can be empowered with the tools to make healthy choices. That being said, there are certain decisions in sexual health that only they have the autonomy to decide what is right for them despite what the research indicates. When I think about all the different programs that exist in MCH in the state, I see that there is much more that can be done, but so much has been invested in order to be where they are today. Supporting MCH is a full-time feat that will be a never-ending job until we can ensure that all women have access to the proper education and resources. My last takeaway was that project evaluation is something that can make a huge difference but it is often easily skipped over. Through my interviews, I could hear that everyone understood the importance of evaluation but often invested in general population surveys to understand where they should put more money into instead of looking at what programs were working well and why. I would hope that institutions would use evaluations as a way of optimizing outcomes and tracking them so that best practices could be shared universally. Unfortunately, this is not the case. These are three of many lessons I have learned over the past three weeks.
I cannot wait to continue to expand on this work. Over the past three weeks, I was also able to speak to a group of amazing women who have worked in global health across the world, the director of the children with special health needs program and the director of planning and healthcare quality at Vermont department of health which had massive impacts on my development. Through them, I was able to think radically about the rights of not only women and children in America, but how I can learn from the services that improve health outcomes for women and children in the US and apply it to Senegal. I realized that there is so much more that needs to be done in Senegal. I really hope that I can deepen these connections and continue to return to them in mentorship!