I am applying for the ENTRANT fellowship in response to the public health crisis in Zambia. I have graduated from Medical School in 2019 and currently work as a junior resident medical officer at University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia. During my 2-month rotation at the Infectious Disease Unit, I communicated with patients and discovered that many of them were not sensitized against deadly infections. My primary role in public health is providing every patient with quality care, communication, and support. I would like to major in Epidemiology and Public Health to improve the healthcare system in my community, so the fellowship program is a perfect opportunity for me to join the global fight against infectious diseases.
I believe that as a developing country, Zambia is far behind other nations in terms of infectious disease control, so we need to raise awareness and educate our community on life-threatening epidemics. Despite the launch of tuberculosis (TB) control program 40 years ago, the number of cases steadily increases, while treatment coverage is only 58%. Zambia’s TB incidence rate is 376 per 100,000 people, making it one of the highest TB burden countries in the world. 70% of identified patients are co-infected with HIV, so as an MSc, I will apply my experience to enhance diagnostics and treatment of both diseases. The outbreak of COVID-19 further increases morbidity and mortality in TB patients.4 Thus, I plan to address COVID-19-associated resource shortages using MSc-level research and best practices.
The completion of the MSc will help me contribute to the optimization of public health systems requiring effective identification and evaluation of TB patients. I am concerned that young adults, the most active and productive demographic group assisting in the development of the country, are affected by HIV/AIDS and TB. I want to acquire skills in outbreak investigations, public health surveillance, visualization, and statistics to improve public health and disease outbreak preparedness. After completing my MSc degree, I intend to stay in Zambia and work as a public health practitioner advocating for public health policy changes to address overpopulation, urban overcrowding, disparities, and epidemics detection.
Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia, ‘Tuberculosis,’ CIDRZ, Zambia, 2021, Web.
Kagujje, M. et al., ‘Active TB Case Finding in a High Burden Setting: Comparison of Community and Facility-Based Strategies in Lusaka, Zambia,’ PLoS One, vol. 15, no. 9, 2020.
Mwamba, C. et al. ‘Diagnosed with TB in the Era of COVID-19: Patient Perspectives in Zambia,’ Public Health Action, vol. 10, no. 4, 2020, pp. 141–146.
The National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control Program, TB Manual, 5th ed., Republic of Zambia Ministry of Health, Zambia, 2017.