Two Medical Students Receive Global Health Award for Work in Tanzania


Two Medical Students Receive Global Health Award for Work in Tanzania

UVA Student in Tanzania hospital

Two University of Virginia medical students were awarded the Kean Travel Fellowship by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene to support their work in tropical medicine and hygiene in the Global South. The award, set in 1998, allowed the students to travel to Tanzania to work on global health projects in the country supporting research in childhood diarrhea, undernutrition, and tuberculosis.
Jack Hensien and Sarah Sebastian, both fourth-year students, worked with investigators at Haydom Lutheran Hospital, a long-time partner for UVA.
“While undertaking advocacy related to sexual and reproductive health in the United States, I’ve learned that speaking to affected populations is essential for truly understanding health inequity,” said Sebastian, who hopes to be an OB/GYN physician. For her, advocacy informs clinical practice as the lack of access to reproductive healthcare resources leads to disparities in outcomes and a systemic lack of trust in the healthcare system.
Hensien gained clinical experience rotating on the medicine and maternity wards, as well as the outreach clinic. For the outreach clinic, he joined a team to provide community-based preventative care (childhood vaccinations, antenatal screening, family planning) for patients in more remote locations of Haydom. “I met multiple patients with highly preventable and morbid complications of cardiovascular disease. From these experiences, I developed my interest in Cardiology and hope to be involved in research related to preventive cardiology in resource-limited settings.”


UVA Student in Tanzania hospital
Sarah Sebastian (far left in green scrubs) with Dr. Jon (OB/GYN resident) and three German medical students after working together in the operating room. Photo Credit: Sarah Sebastian

Hensien's interest in global health comes from his Medical Anthropology and Global Public Health classes at UVA which inspired him to pursue global engagement through the Center for Global Health Equity’s University Scholar Award*. Jack used this award to fund summer research in Haydom, Tanzania. He hopes to join an internal medicine residency program with a global health track.
Sebastian used her funding from the Kean Travel Fellowship and the Center for Global Health and Equity to work last summer in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department in Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College Hospital, one of the larger referral hospitals in Tanzania. Sarah spent time on the Labor and Delivery ward, in the operating room, as well as in the clinic learning from Tanzanian medical students, residents, and attendings.  She plans to incorporate  values and lessons from her time in Tanzania to inform and develop her research focus to ensure patients have access to evidence-based care.
 “Jack and Sarah’s remarkable accomplishments and collaborative effort represent UVA’s work globally to improve health for all communities,” said Scott Heysell, Director of the Center for Global Health Equity.
The clinical experiences at both sites in Tanzania are administered by Tania Thomas, Associate Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at UVA, who has worked in the country for 15 years.
*The Center for Global Health Equity University Scholar Award is open for all students enrolled at the University of Virginia. If you are interested in this please email [email protected] for more information and advice regarding global engagement.

Written by -- Owen Selden