ARCH - A Research Collaborative for Global Health Equity

ARCH (Alliance for Research and Equity in Global Health)
ARCH (Alliance for Research and Equity in Global Health)
Data in Context: Reflections Abroad from a MSc Epidemiology Student 
By: Breagh Cheng
What happens when you go beyond the data? 

As a MSc epidemiology student, my thesis focuses on malaria, where I am analyzing survey data collected from the eastern border regions of Myanmar. 

Little did I know that I’d have the opportunity to go beyond the data, in a literal sense. In the summer of 2019, I travelled to Mae Sot, a city in western Thailand near Myanmar to meet and work with the researchers involved in the implementation of the health survey informing my research. During this time, I learned from members of the Burma Medical Association (BMA) and Health Information System Working Group (HISWG), which are ethnic health organizations involved in health system strengthening through health care service provision and information sharing and management, respectively.

I’ve learned that the complex political environment cannot be ignored when studying health. Indeed, they are often intertwined, especially in a region like Myanmar, where ongoing civil war has disrupted the local health system. Through community meet ups with local residents working at nonprofit groups, attending ethnic health conferences, and insightful dinner conversations with my Thai-based supervisor, I gained a local’s perspective into the complex history of Myanmar involving decades of conflict between ethnic and government groups, with repercussions across all societal sectors. Beyond the literature, I began to understand how factors such as extreme language differences can further contribute to challenges in collaboration and the health inequities among ethnic minorities in Myanmar. 

Moreover, I heard about community health priorities, a perspective which is not always highlighted in some global health work. The leaders of the ethnic health organizations I spoke to had strong convictions in their desire to seek change for their communities, highlighting the importance of self-determination, health human resource capacity-building, and education. Understanding both historical and current perceptions would ultimately help ensure I understand and accurately interpret the results from my thesis research. 

Although I’ve since returned to my academic routine at Queen’s University in Canada, my trip has left a lasting impression on me. This brief glimpse into another culture and community has prompted me to consider how to reconcile my analytical skills as an epidemiologist with the realities occurring in the field. It’s also made me realize that while data offers the potential for generating deep insights about an issue, it does not always tell the whole story. The social, cultural, and historical perspective gives additional context to understanding global health problems, and the people of that setting. 

Conference Attendance and Reflections
By: Breagh Cheng
Meeting 1: The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) 68th Annual Meeting
Date: November 20-24, 2019 (Wednesday through Sunday)
Location: National Harbor, Maryland USA (adjacent to Washington, DC)

Meeting 2: "The Future of Malaria Research”, John Hopkins Malaria Research Institute
Date: November 18, 2019
Location: Rockville, Maryland USA

During these two American conferences, I presented preliminary descriptive statistics from my thesis work on malaria and a review of data challenges related to administration of the health survey I am using for my research. The Future of Malaria Research Conference is a forum for young scientists to share their research in malaria, while the ASTMH is the largest international scientific organization of experts dedicated to reducing the worldwide burden of tropical infectious diseases and improving global health.
1) Context: Both conferences covered a broad range of backgrounds in clinical, biological and broader population-based aspects of malaria transmission, although ASTMH had a broader focus that included all neglected tropical diseases such as tuberculosis and lymphatic filariasis. As an epidemiology student with interests in big data, I was glad to also learn from methodological-focused sessions that discussed new data collection and analytical approaches for malaria surveillance and prediction were presented. Dr. Caroline Buckee in particular stands out with her presentation on integrating mobile phone, mobility, and epidemiological data to understand malaria transmission. 
2) Connections: With over 5000 tropical disease experts convening over four days, witnessing the scale of individuals committed to the goal of eradicating malaria was inspiring (and slightly overwhelming). However, as I’ve learned through my travel experiences in Thailand, attending any event solo in an unfamiliar setting can be intimidating but overcome with an open attitude. By finding common ground and discussing ideas with my peers during small moments, such as waiting in line for lunch, I was able to connect with new colleagues and learn about new aspects of malaria research.
3) Open-minded: The range of sessions were numerous, and it was tempting to visit only the talks that were most relevant to my field of research. After visiting posters related to topics outside my field, I was quickly reminded about how learning about other fields can spark ideas for my own projects. 
These experiences were a valuable networking opportunity that allowed me to connect with peers and researchers from interdisciplinary backgrounds.

Accountability and Governance in Global Health- CSIH Blog Post

November 20, 2019
Check out this post written by ARCH Trainee, Luissa Vahedi on Accountability and Governance in Global Health!
"The 25th annual Canadian Conference on Global Health stressed the importance of accountability in global health. As a social epidemiologist, and aspiring academic and applied research scientist, the time is now to not only produce rigorous high-quality research but also narrow the gap between research and action. We are accountable to the participants who trust the research process and share with us their lived experiences."

Convocation Announcements
November, 2019

In November, two ARCH Trainee's, Luissa Vahedi (Left) and Lesley Anne Pablo (Right) took part in the convocation for the successful completion of their MSc Epidemiology degrees. Congratulations to you both! 

Canadian Conference on Global Health Equity
October 17-19, 2019

Many of our ARCH Trainees attended the CCGH Conference in Ottawa in the middle of October. Jessica Gilmore, Breagh Cheng, and Lesley Anne Pablo participated in the poster presentation, and Luissa Vahedi completed an oral presentation with others in attendance! It was a great experience had by all!

MSc Defence Announcement
August 26, 2019

Congratulations to ARCH Trainee, Lesley Anne Pablo for successfully defending her MSc Epidemiology thesis! 

ARCH in the Queen's Gazette
August 12, 2019

Check out this article reporting on our visiting Queen Elizabeth Scholars working on collaborations with local Kingston researchers. 


MSc Defence Announcement
July 29, 2019

Congratulations to ARCH Trainee, Luissa Vahedi for successfully defending her MSc Epidemiology thesis!

PhD Defence Announcement
March 15, 2019

Congratulations to ARCH trainee, Atul Jaiswal for successfully defending his PhD thesis on Participation of Persons with Deafblindness in India! More information on Atul's project can be found in his Trainee bio.

Ph.D Dissertation Defence Announcement
January 25, 2019

Congratulations to ARCH trainee Christiana Okyere for successfully defending her Ph.D. dissertation on inclusive education for children with intellectual disabilities in Accra, Ghana!

Ph.D Dissertation Defence Announcement
January 24, 2019

Congratulations to ARCH trainee Ebenezer Dassah, who successfully defended his PhD dissertation on access to health care for people with physical disabilities in Ghana on January 24, 2019! 

Guest Speaker: Saw Nay Htoo
November 23, 2018
Topic: Providing Healthcare to Eastern Burma's Ethnic Minorities
Thank you to all those who were able to come and listen to Saw Nay Htoo's talk! We were very happy to be able to have the opportunity to host him for the Queen's University community.

Canadian Conference on Global Health
November 19-21, 2018
ARCH team members were well represented at the Canadian Conference on Global Health. Congratulations to all who attended, and presented!

ARCH in the Queen's Gazette
September 13, 2018

Check out this article reporting on ARCH and the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Scholars – Advanced Scholars program funding securement!

ARCH in the Queen's Gazette
May 11, 2018

Check out this article that features Drs. Colleen Davison and Martin Ayanore after their panal discussion with Dr. Lydia Kapiriri on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights in sub-Saharan Africa!

Guest Speaker: Dr. Martin Ayanore (BSc, PGDE, IEMBA, MPhil, PhD)
May 2018
Topic: Medical and Policy Perspectives on Adolescent's Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa
Thank you to all those who were able to come and listen to Dr. Martin Ayanore's talk! We were very happy to be able to have the opportunity to host him for the Queen's University community.

Left to Right: Dr. Martin Ayanore, Dr. Colleen Davison, Ebenezer Dassah, and Florence Dery

Guest Speaker: Dr. Vandana Sharma (MD, MPH)
October 2017
Topic: Impact Evaluations: Assessing the effectiveness of Maternal Health Interventions in Northern Nigeria; and, Developing and Evaluating Interventions to Prevent and Reduce Intimate Partner Violence in Non-humanitarian and Humanitarian Settings

Thank you to all those who were able to come and listen to Dr. Vandan Sharma's talk! We were very happy to be able to have the opportunity to host her for the Queen's University community.

ARCH in the Queen's Gazette
March 30, 2017 

Check out this article reporting on our ARCH PI's securing funding for the Queen Elizabeth Scholars Network for Equity in Maternal Child Health!