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Leadership Fellows Gain Firsthand Global Health Experience

December 12, 2021
by Rosalind D'Eugenio

The Leadership in Global Health Fellowship program was created to provide Yale students and trainees with an in-depth experience of how complex global health challenges -- including emerging pandemic infections, the dramatic rise in non-communicable diseases, and other systemic issues impacting the health of the world’s population -- are addressed by major global health organizations around the world. The Yale Institute for Global Health (YIGH) program is specifically designed to offer training and inspiration to young professionals who have a passion for and understanding of the critical importance of health for a just and equitable society.

During their summer internships, fellows supported many organizational activities including conducting analyses of immunization financing, contributing to strategic and operational plans related to climate change and health activities, and providing analytical and technical support for COVID-19 vaccine implementation and strengthening primary health care systems. This year’s host organizations included the World Bank; GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance; Save the Children; and UNICEF.

Though still a young program, the YIGH fellowship has made an impact on several of its participants. Ximena Benavides, YLS ’22, worked with GAVI supporting the organization’s efforts to ensure fair and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccine. “I was very impressed with my colleagues and mentors at Yale and GAVI-COVAX who showed tireless commitment, resilience, and generosity to the COVAX Facility mission,” says Benavides. “I am grateful to have had the chance to contribute to this mission and to explore how best I can contribute to a global health focused organization with my professional experience and doctoral studies.” COVAX is a global risk-sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

The fellows were, likewise, well received by the host organizations. Rosie Grieves, Senior Manager for Country Engagement from the Office of COVAX Facility, GAVI, says, “Our Yale intern enhanced the team by bringing commitment, energy, and inquisitiveness, boosting our ability to help deliver COVID-19 vaccines to those who need them most.”

Following his fellowship with UNICEF, Timothy DeVita, YSM resident, was brought on as a consultant to support on adolescent health programming in UNICEF’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Office. “Tim has become a valuable asset to the UNICEF health team, and we are grateful for the support of YIGH,” says said Joanna Lai, Technical Focal Point for Adolescent Health at UNICEF HQ. “The YIGH fellowship is such an important platform for building up young leaders in the field of global health. We look forward to working with many more Yale fellows in the years to come.”

DeVita worked with the UNICEF Maternal Newborn Adolescent Health Unit, helping to build health education products, advocacy and policy briefs, and facilitating conversations with stakeholders. When he started working with UNICEF, DeVita was shocked at the large size of the organization. “UNICEF works in 190 different nations with seven regional offices all around the world,” he says. “I was truly amazed how groups with vastly different perspectives and geographic regions work together to solve global problems.” He also shared that by observing how physicians engage in global health, he can better envision how he may be best suited to contribute to this work.

Jessica Tuan, YSM fellow, says, “The YIGH fellowship provided me the opportunity to see firsthand the development and implementation of COVID-19 vaccination and primary health care systems equitably on a global scale.” Tuan worked at the World Bank, focusing on the development of healthcare infrastructure and capacity building on a global scale, particularly in regard to equitable delivery of COVID-19 vaccines and primary healthcare. “This fellowship is a great opportunity for students to see how global organizations like the World Bank collaborate and respond to complex global challenges even when faced with a major crisis like a pandemic. We also benefit from the students expertise, creativity, fresh perspectives and commitment,” says Zara Shubber, Senior Health Specialist at the World Bank. For the summer of 2022, up to ten new fellowship opportunities are available including new placements with the U.N. Development Programme. To learn more and apply, visit the Leadership in Global Health Fellowship webpage.

“The Leadership in Global Health Fellowship program is beneficial to both the host organization and the fellow,” says Mike Skonieczny, deputy director of YIGH. “We truly value and appreciate these partner organizations offering the fellows a unique experience that has the capacity to impact their future careers in global health.”

The Yale Institute for Global Health is the focal point for global health at Yale, bringing together expertise and knowledge from across campus with partners around the world. By actively collaborating across disciplines and seizing opportunities for innovation, YIGH aims to speed the translation of new scientific discoveries into better health for all.

Submitted by Alyssa Cruz on December 08, 2021