Global WACh

November 21, 2019

Global WACh Research Assistant and DGH Thomas Francis Jr. Fellowship recipient, Hannah Atlas, conducts field research for children’s health in Nepal

Hannah Atlas (far right) with Department of Community Programs Health Workers from Dhulikhel Hospital in Nepal.

Second-year MPH in Global Health and Global WACh Certificate student, Hannah Atlas, is a very familiar face around Global WACh. Prior to enrolling at UW in the fall of 2018, Hannah worked as a study coordinator for the Toto Bora Trial and ABCD Study led by Drs. Judd Walson and Patty Pavlinac, co-directors of Global WACh’s Gut Health and Child Survival (GHCS) scientific priority area, for 2 years. She also coordinated a small pilot study aimed at assessing the composition of the gut microbiome among HIV-exposed children and worked with Dr. Donna Denno, a technical advisor for GHCS, supporting the coordinating body of the Environmental Enteric Dysfunction Biopsy Consortium. As a graduate student, Hannah has continued working with our investigators on two clinical trials of azithromycin, an oral antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections, to reduce mortality and morbidity of discharged hospitalized children under age five.

View from the Dhunkara Outreach Center. Hannah worked with community health workers to survey school-aged children about their health. Photo credit: Hannah Atlas

As Hannah entered the second half of the MPH program, she applied for travel funding to Nepal to complete her degree’s practicum requirement.  In 2019, Hannah received the Department of Global Health’s Thomas Francis Jr. Global Health Fellowship that supports students in gaining practical global health field experience in international and/or underserved community settings.

Hannah conducted her practicum at the Dhulikhel Hospital, an affiliate hospital of Kathmandu University, in Dhulikhel, Nepal.  She worked with the hospital’s Department of Community Programs (DCP) staff clinicians to identify health priorities among rural communities and discover what types of conditions are most prominent among children at the hospital’s rural health outreach centers.  Hannah and her team developed a questionnaire for school-aged children, aimed at capturing information on children’s dietary diversity and food security, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) conditions, and weight and height to monitor growth trajectory.

Much of what Hannah learned about questionnaire development and data management in the classroom as a graduate student and as Global WACh research assistant applied to a successful and meaningful practicum experience.  She also benefited from the support and guidance of her practicum advisor, Dr. Walson, and DCP’s Dr. Akina Shrestha, Shrinkhala Shrestha, and the community health workers under the departmental leadership of Dr. Biraj Karmacharya, Chief of DCP.

“Above all,” Hannah added, “my most important learning takeaways were to be open-minded, adaptive, and start from a place of listening.”