University of Missouri Public Health Students Collaborates with Engineers to Take on Sanitation, Water Issues in Central America

Columbia, MO – November 11, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — To be able to adjust quickly to different situations and to take care of patients from different backgrounds with understanding and respect are essential skills for soon to be doctors, nurses, and every public health professionals. Now, University of Missouri’s Master of Public Health Program students will go abroad to be educated about public health issues outside of the country and offer beneficial research to the residents of the underprivileged areas.

MPH Program’s field placement coordinator Lynelle Phillips says increasing the cultural competency is 1 of the primary goals of the study abroad program. Phillips says cultural competency, together with critical thinking and being able to adapt quickly, are difficult skills to be taught in the classroom.

The Missouri University of Science and Technology’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders which is a group that works together to improve the value of life in developing areas through sustainable engineering projects, together with University of Missouri MPH students builds infrastructure to be able to bring potable water to Central America villages. In addition to several weeks to an entire summer of learning abroad, some MPH students have presented their research at the MPH Association’s Annual Conference in September. University of Missouri’s public health students won the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in the poster competition for students.

Here are some examples of the research from the student:
•Picture that Speak: The Story of Health in Rural Honduras by Abigail Rolbiecki and Lara Hilliard using Photovoice. The photos taken by the locals are evaluated to achieve an understanding of specific issues Both the students found that giving access to potable water is a major health issue in rural Honduras and that locals need guidance to enhance their water sanitation.

•Picturing a Healthy Community: Photovoice project to Guatemala by Erik DeLaney and Andrea Winberg. The students of this project gave the residents digital cameras and did focus groups to get a better understanding of their health needs, develop a stronger sense of community for dealing with the health issues, and recognize future developments for Engineers Withour Borders.

•A Survey of Water Provision, Waterborne Illness and Sanitation in the Town of Santiago, Honduras: Maya Tarter and Andrew Craver accomplished a comprehensive survey about water use, sanitation & water-related illness. The students of this project hope that the survey will answer all basic questions regarding health issues & water needs in the community & prompt engineers to address these needs and educate the locals how to sustain the clean water system.

Majority of the students plan to go back to the countries where they have worked, or they wish to pass their research projects on the next MPH students.

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