My name is Stephanie Ly and I am a currently MPH student in the global health track. My classmate, Melody Serra, is also an MPH student working alongside me. I am currently in Nairobi, Kenya. We have been in this major Kenyan city for a few days waiting to leave for our project destination as well as aiming to buy more LLINs (long lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets). Nairobi is quite developed and is interesting because they have giraffes freely roam the side of the highway as well.
We are heading out to Shirati, Tanzania tomorrow which is rural village near the border of Kenya and a 10 hour ride away. My advisor is USC physician and professor, Dr. Dennis Mull, is the founder of the SHED Foundation (Shirati Health, Education, and Development). Dr. Mull graciously allowed us to tag along with his group of medical students. Shirati is an impoverished area where most families make less than $1/day and the SHED foundation established a clinic there. We are funded by a grant from the USC Institute for Global Health for which we are incredibly grateful. We will be completing a research study on mosquito net usage behavior and whether an education intervention would make a difference. Every year, millions of LLINs are distributed with little to no education on their use or benefit. Analogous to receiving antibiotics for which you are not given directions or informed of the benefits, there is a high chance that you will use them incorrectly. We are hoping to understand why certain recipients of nets use them incorrectly and how we can instill proper knowledge as well as reform bad habits.
I have been anticipating this moment for my entire life. Its been a dream come true actually being here and completing a meaningful project. My group and I are leaving Nairobi tomorrow for the long bus ride to Shirati. I have a feeling that after this trip, my perspectives on life will be quite different. I’m not entire sure of what to expect…whether our electricity and water will be reliable, whether or not I will catch a tropical disease, or if the project will go well or not. The only thing to deal with the anxiety is patience and time. I look forward to updating you further on what we are doing.