VUSM Student Reflects on ISC: Global Health and Research Immersion Experience with Lwala Community Alliance

Sarah Heerboth, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Class of 2019 (expected), recently wrote an article reflecting on her experience working with Lwala Community Alliance in Kenya. Sarah worked at Lwala for her Integrated Science Course (ISC): Global Health, a research immersion course for third- and fourth-year medical students. 

Sarah's article, "Umama Salamas: A case for including traditional healers in modern health systems," highlights the significant impact of traditional healers on health outcomes. Sarah includes her personal experience working with Lwala Community Alliance to illustrate the positive impact of traditional healers, such as Community Health Workers (CHWs) and traditional birth attendants (TBAs), to improve health outcomes.

"With some training, community members can easily fill gaps in health education and prevention initiatives, often doing so in ways even better than their formally trained counterparts. In fact, significant reductions in childhood morbidity and mortality are achieved when lay health workers are deployed as a foundational component of health care systems. They’ve also been shown to increase breastfeeding, childhood immunizations, and tuberculosis treatment completion. It is not a far leap to say that lay health workers have the power to help many of the Sustainable Development Goals become reality," Sarah writes. 

Sarah's article was published in Global VU, Vanderbilt's Journal of International Affairs. Global VU features students' writing on international events, global health, and more.