Experiences of a MPH Student

My name is Janice Bonsu, a Master of Public Health student at the University of Pennsylvania. This summer, I am in Gaborone (read: ha-bo-ron-ee), Botswana volunteering as a trial monitoring coordinator for a pediatric gastroenteritis multi-site randomized control trial. Our aim is to investigate whether targeted antimicrobial therapy in children produces significant benefits in growth or mortality.

Thisjaniceb.png isn’t a “best places to see” blog post. I began my summer in Sunyani, Ghana, visiting my family for what was one of our largest gatherings to date. I packed for Ghana as I’ve always packed for Ghana; even in “winter” Ghana is a balmy 80 ºF. In late May, I said goodbye to my family who stood puzzled as I boarded a flight to Botswana. They were confused by my decision to conduct research in Botswana rather in Ghana. “Go with God,” my grandfather said, “and remember to bring the results back home.”

I knew I would be tired and hungry when I landed in Gaborone, especially after a 12-hour flight that left me stranded in Qatar for a day. As I disembarked the plane and gingerly drew in the 38 ºF night air, I realized that Botswana would be unlike any experience in Africa that I have had.

Since that evening, I like to think that I’ve adjusted to life in Gabs with a bit more grace. If that is, in fact, true, then it is entirely due to my coworkers and the other Penn students whom I have come to know. The Penn students are a diverse mix of Master of Public Health students, medical students, PhD students, residents, and nurses. Though we’ve all become close friends, I am proud to say that we have not clung to each other at the expense of making new friends in Botswana.

In a country where, from appearance, I seem to be a familiar stranger, most people are disappointed when they learn that I don’t understand Setswana. My coworkers have become my core support group. They are a passionate mix of people from all over Botswana: Mma Moorad is a Mokwena from Molepolole and Oarabile is a Mokgatla wa-ga-Mmanaana from Thamaga. Ikanyeng is a Motawana from Maun and Letang is a Mongwaketse from Kanye. And rounding out the group are Mbabi, Boswa, and Charity who are Kalanga from Gweta, Makuta, and Tsamaya. More than just translating for me and teaching me phrases in Setswana, this team has given me people to call home. They have also enabled me to grow a deep appreciation and understanding for values that I also share as a Ghanaian.

Pride in cultural values and identity run deep in Botswana. So much so that when I set out to write this entry and shared my draft, my coworkers encouraged me to include their tribal affiliations. The significance of trial identity has also been important in our research study. For example the cultural practice of botsetsi differs between the various tribes in Botswana. Botsetsi is a practice in which after a mother gives birth to a baby, there are restrictions for what she can and cannot do, who may or may not visit her, what food she can and cannot eat, etc. Some tribes practice botsetsi for two weeks while some practice it for as long as three months. As we are working in a pediatric research study, knowledge of cultural traditions such as botsetsi has proved to be invaluable.

As the majority of my family lives outside of the United States, traveling has always been a part of my life. However, this trip to a country that I have no familial attachment to has revealed to me the common strands that run through all of us – Ghanaian, Batswana, American, and other. If I had to give advice to another student, I would encourage them to find what motivates them and travel. You learn about yourself when your normal routine is disrupted and you must listen and navigate in a world that you do not understand.

Though the most overlooked sight in Africa is the people, I would be remiss if I didn’t leave you with a photo I snapped of Bots’ national animal, the zebra.



A Journey of Healthy Living

I am a Penn employee and have worked for the School of Arts and Sciences for 10 years.  I started my healthy living lifestyle about two years ago and have lost a total of 80 pounds.  I started by simply walking to work.  Since then, I have been walking to and from work every day, total of about 3 miles per day.

Kim Peurifoy, Penn Employee

Kim Peurifoy, Penn Employee

About  a year and half ago, I started running on my free time, and can now run about 3 miles straight, still pushing for the 10k though!  As a reward, I completed a few 5k races.  I also slowly changed my eating habits.  I cut out of sugar and made more healthy food choices for my family and me.  Some of the habits I changed were eating out less for lunch and packing a healthy lunch daily.  I also became more conscious about making healthier choices, with the help of the nutritionist seen here on Penn’s campus.  In addition, I am an active participant in the Penn Walking Program as well as in the Penn Moves Study.  I am also a return participant in Penn’s Be In the Know Program.

I am often asked was it hard to lose the weight? How do you stay focused? My reply is that I am on personal journey path.  It’s something that I work towards every day.

Of course, I sometimes struggle with exercising and eating right, but I am committed to staying on the path.  I do not let one bad meal or a missed exercise day lead the course of my journey.  I shake it off and get back on track.  My reward is that I enjoy my increased energy level and I want to keep it!  I am proof that it can be done!
My advice is to make your “healthy living journey” fun!  We keep an accountability calendar in my office, so my staff and I record our daily personal and group workouts on the calendar.  This practice has helped us to remain consistent with moving, and it has helped us great deal. We even participated in the Penn Wellness walk together!

Written by: Kim Peurifoy, Penn employee, as a part of Healthy Penn – My Moves, My Waylogo

Community Driven Research Day 2016

Presenting Organizations 2016:

Hepatitis B Foundation
Resources for Human Development/Morris Home
Chinatown Clinic
City of Philadelphia, Department of Behavioral Health
Holcomb Behavioral Health Systems
Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative
Susquehanna Clean Up/Pick Up
EndDistracted Driving(EndDD.org)
Church of the Advocate
Nationalities Service Center
Schuylkill River Town Program (Penna Enviro Council)
Healthy Kids Running Series
Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA)
The Center for Grieving Children
Angel Flight East
Mujeres Luchadoras
UpLift Solutions
Health Promotion Council
Sayre Health Center
JEVS Human Services
Broad Street Ministry
Mobile CPR Project Philadelphia
Envisions Urban Initiative
Lutheran Settlement House
Treatment Research Institute
Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network (PIHN)
Survive Strive Thrive, Inc.
In the dance
Second Mount Zion (SMZ) Baptist Church Health,Wellness & Fitness Ambassadors
Norris Square Community Alliance
New Kensington Community Development Corporation
The Attic
Korean American Women’s Association in Philadelphia

Women’s Health in Gaborone, Botswana

Botswana UPenn office

Botswana UPenn office

The week of Thanksgiving, 2015, was warm and dry in Botswana as the season turned toward full winter that is, full summer, here in the Southern Hemisphere). I am fortunate to have this time for fieldwork experience with the Botswana-UPenn Partnership, the Fellowship in Family Planning, and the Penn Master of Public Health program, immersed in women’s health care in Gaborone, the country’s capitol city under the mentorship of Dr. Chelsea Morroni.



Maternal and child health, particularly cervical cancer prevention and pregnancy planning, has been a key issue here. Botswana has been strongly affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, with 23% of the adult population infected, including 30.4% of reproductive-age women. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) co-infection has made cervical cancer the leading cancer among women. The Cervical Cancer Prevention Program (CCP), established by Dr. Doreen Ramogola-Masire at Princess Marina Hospital, provides excision of precancerous lesions of the cervix for women referred from one of several cervical cancer screening clinic sites in Gaborone. The Women’s Health Clinic at PMH provided care to over 1300 reproductive age women in 2014, only 10% of whom were using a World Health Organization (WHO) tier 2 or 3 (moderately effective) contraceptive method, and CCP is a well-established and widely accepted part of preventative health care in Botswana.

In fact, unintended pregnancy is estimated at 44-50% of all pregnancies in Botswana, even though the Ministry of Health provides free family planning services. A significant barrier is that family planning services are not available in many gynecology clinics, including the CCP sites; women must visit a specific FP clinic for contraception. Visits to both clinics cannot be done the same day, due to scheduling conflicts. Women who lack access to education or are from rural areas have borne the brunt of the burden of unmet contraceptive need in Botswana: although they have been able to receive care through the CCP, making the long journey to Gaborone on a separate day to obtain family planning has limited contraceptive access and service utilization.

Group from Contraceptive Training

Group from Contraceptive Training

My visit is focused on the initial steps for integration of cervical cancer prevention and family planning services. During my stay, I am working with key stakeholders who lead the CCP clinics, provide expert family planning consultation to the Ministry of Health, and direct the inpatient and outpatient OB/GYN services at Princess Marina Hospital. I am training the CCP staff on contraceptive counseling and intrauterine device (IUD) and contraceptive implant insertions, based upon the WHO’s Decision-Making Tool for Family Planning Clients and Providers.

This work will form the foundation of an upcoming clinical intervention and implementation study. The study will assess the acceptability and feasibility of incorporating family planning services into CCP care, and will measure the effectiveness of the contraceptive counseling, plus on-site IUD and implantS availability, on uptake of highly effective contraceptive methods for women seeking cervical cancer prevention who wish to delay pregnancy.

The “IUD at CCP” program will help fill the gap in contraceptive access in Botswana, by focusing on the importance dual method use (condoms for HIV prevention plus a highly effective contraceptive method for women not seeking pregnancy) at the time of cervical cancer screening. This will bring services to a setting that is convenient for the women with the highest need. Provider training in contraceptive counseling, and clinical training in IUD insertion techniques, as begun with this work, lays the groundwork for this program. A long-term, comprehensive implementation strategy including ongoing community education and garnering of public buy-in, with continuing provider trainings in shared-decision making and IUD and implant insertion techniques, will be needed for the continuing growth and success of this program.

It is my hope that I, and future public health practitioners and physicians, will be able to visit the warm, welcoming city of Gaborone in coming years, to participate the growth and witness the success of the IUD at CCP program.

Written by Elizabeth Gurney, MD, 2nd year Family Planning Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania

From Innovation to Dissemination: 2015/16 Seminar Series


This year’s CPHI seminar series is titled “From Innovation to Dissemination”. The series builds upon the University of Pennsylvania’s annual theme for 2015/16 – The Year of Discovery that focuses on both the long-range, planned and calculated research toward an intended goal as well as the more “spontaneous and serendipitous” discoveries.
This year’s series will create a forum for cross-sector communication around innovative public health solutions. Seminars will present real world solutions to complex problems including new finance mechanisms to fund public health initiatives, the use of digital health technology, and innovative approaches to address the opioid epidemic.

Throughout each series, we aim to encourage different perspectives to add to the conversation; we hope to foster current collaborations and spark new ones; and we hope to instill the importance of always searching for new ways to improve health.

Save-the-date! Fall Semester Seminar Line-up

Seminar Kickoff Event: Voices of Health Exhibit and CPHI Overview

September 9th (Wednesday) 4:30pm – 6:00pm | Register
Claudia Cohen Hall – Terrace Room

Come and join CPHI Fellows and the public health community to learn about CPHI and the resources that we have to offer. Wine reception to follow as you stroll through a photo exhibit that documents what the domain of “health” means to the Penn community. We asked over 300 students, staff, faculty members and community residents “what words come to mind when you think about health?”. This photo exhibit documents what they said.

Moving an Innovative Idea into Action: It’s Not as Hard as You May Think
Roy Rosin, MBA
Chief Innovation Officer
Penn Medicine’s Center for Innovation

September 18th (Friday) 12:00pm – 1:30pm | Register
Claudia Cohen Hall – Terrace Room

Join us as we hear from Roy Rosin, Chief Innovation Officer from Penn Medicine’s Center for Innovation where he works with thought leaders across the health system to turn ideas into measurable impact in the areas of health outcomes, patient experience and new revenue streams. Roy will talk about practical ways to turn your innovative idea into a reality. Roy received his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and graduated with honors from Harvard College. Outside of work he serves as a board member and angel investor for venture funded startups, an advisor to Fortune 100 companies and a coach to his son’s little league baseball teams.

Digital Health Innovation
Chris Murphy, PhD
Associate Professor of Practice
Department of Computer and Information Science University of Pennsylvania
Nalaka Gooneratne, MD, MSc
Associate Professor of Medicine UPenn, Presby, & VA

October 5th (Monday) 12:00pm – 1:30pm | Register
Krishna Singh Center for Nanotechnology

Move out of your comfort zone and into the world of Digital Health Technology. Drs. Murphy and Gooneratne will each bring their own expertise and demonstrate how to leverage digital technology into practical applications to improve health outcomes. Dr. Murphy is an Associate Professor of Practice in the Department of Computer & Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania, and Director of the Masters of Computer & Information Technology program. Dr. Gooneratne is a physician specializing in sleep disorders. In addition to his research (funded by NIA, NCCAM and NHLBI), he is the Associate Program Director for the Clinical and Translational Research Center, and the mHealth service (mobile app development) within the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT). He is also the director of the Masters in Translational Research Entrepreneurial Science track.

A New Approach to Address Social Challenges: Impact Bonds
Jeff Liebman, PhD
Professor of Public Policy
Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Moderated by:
Ezekiel Emanuel, PhD
Vice Provost for Global Initiatives
Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy
The University of Pennsylvania

October: Exact Date TBD

Social Impact Bonds (SIBs), often referred to as Pay-For-Success, are a novel funding approach that combine components of results- or performance-based financing and public-private partnerships, which have been used to fund public services for many decades. With a SIB, financing is provided upfront rather than when results are attained and results are related to outcomes as opposed to outputs. To date, 44 SIBs are being utilized in developed countries to, among other social issues, provide high-quality preschool education, reduce prison recidivism, avoid foster care placement, and increase youth employment.

Dr. Liebman will walk us through the SIB model and see how we can apply it to fund public health services. Dr. Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy, studies tax and budget policy, social insurance, poverty, and income inequality. During the first two years of the Obama Administration, Liebman worked at OMB, first as Executive Associate Director and Chief Economist and then as Acting Deputy Director. From 1998 to 1999, Liebman served as Special Assistant to the President for economic policy and coordinated the Clinton Administration’s Social Security reform technical working group.

Advocacy & Influence: Innovations Addressing Homelessness
Sister Mary Scullion
President & Executive Director
Project HOME

December 8th (Tuesday) 12:00pm-1:30pm| Register
Class of ’49 Auditorium

Sister Mary Scullion, R.S.M. is a Philadelphia-based American Roman Catholic Religious Sister and activist, named by “Time” as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2009, alongside Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey. Scullion has been involved in service work and advocacy for homeless and mentally ill persons since 1978. In 1989, she co-founded Project H.O.M.E., a nationally recognized organization that provides supportive housing, employment, education and health care to enable chronically homeless and low-income persons to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty in Philadelphia. Join us to hear Sister Mary’s powerful voice on political issues affecting homelessness and mentally ill persons. She will address how advocacy efforts can result in long-term sustainable policy and law changes.

Behavioral Economics: How People Process Information and Make Decisions
Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD
Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics, Leonard David Institute

January 12th (Tuesday) 12:00pm-1:30pm| Register
Arch 208 Auditorium, 3601 Locust Walk

Dr. Volpp is the founding Director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI CHIBE), Director of the NIH-funded Penn CMU Roybal P30 Center in Behavioral Economics and Health, Vice Chairman for Health Policy for the Department of Medical Ethics and Policy, and a Professor of Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Health Care Management at the Wharton School. He is a core faculty member of the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP) and a board certified practicing physician at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center.

The Science of Simple, Low-Cost Health and Safety Interventions
Charles Branas, PhD
Professor of Epidemiology
University of Pennsylvania

Sara Heller, PhD
Associate Professor of Criminology
University of Pennsylvania

February 25th (Thursday) 12:00pm-1:30pm| Register
Location TBD

Dr. Branas works to improve health and healthcare and is recognized for his efforts to reduce violence and enhance emergency care. Much of his work incorporates human geography and place-based change. His studies have taken him to cities and small towns across the US and other countries. Dr. Branas has served on boards and offered scientific expertise for numerous groups including the NIH, the CDC, and the National Academies in the US, as well as national scientific organizations in Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. His work has been cited by the US Supreme Court and Congress. He is a past President of the Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research, an elected member of the American Epidemiological Society, and affiliated faculty at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala.

Professor Heller focuses primarily on field experiments testing the effects of treatment interventions on crime, education, and other life outcomes. She is investigating the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy-based programming on juvenile crime and schooling outcomes. She is also conducting two related studies on the effects of summer jobs on youth, especially on their crime and labor market outcomes.

Innovative Practices to Address the Opioid Epidemic
Matthew Hurford, MD
Vice President of Medical Affairs
Community Care Behavioral Health Community

March 18th (Friday) 12:00pm-1:30pm| Register
Location TBD

Dr. Hurford is Vice President of Medical Affairs for Community Care Behavioral Health Organization one of the country’s largest not-for-profit behavioral health managed care organization. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Community Care serves over 750,000 Medicaid beneficiaries across Pennsylvania by facilitating the ongoing evolution of the behavioral health system toward one that embraces the journey of healing, transformation, and empowerment.

As VP of Medical Affairs at Community Care, Dr. Hurford provides leadership in the development of new business opportunities and program development including physical health/behavioral health integration and innovative healthcare payment models.

Prior to joining Community Care, Dr. Hurford served as the Chief Medical Officer of the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services (DBHIDS) and Community Behavioral Health (CBH), a not-for-profit behavioral health managed care organization.

Additional training and educational opportunities:

LGBT Transgender Symposium: Training for Healthcare Providers
December 10th, 8:30am-1:00pm
Biomedical Research Building

Qualitative Research Institute
January 7th – 9th (all day training)
More details coming soon!

For questions about our seminar series, please contact Elizabeth Devietti eldevi@mail.med.upenn.edu