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Scholarship promotes maternal and child health equity research

Queen's health equality collaborative group wins Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Scholars – Advanced Scholars program funding.

A Queen’s University program focused on maternal and child health equity is one of 20 Canadian university programs that received funding from the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Scholarships – Advanced Scholars (QES-AS) program.

[QES-AS program members]
QES-AS program members from left to right: Enkh-Oyun Tsogzolbaatar, Supaporn Trongsakul, Colleen Davison, Katemanee Moonpanane, Heather Aldersey, Susan Thanabalasingam, Eva Purkey, Ariuntuya Sakhiya, and Dédé Watchiba. Not pictured: Luc Kalisya Malemo and Susan Bartels. (Photo: University Communications)

A Research Collaborative for Global Health Equity (ARCH) received $449,000 in funding to support research projects among the visiting scholars and associated faculty.

The QES-AS focuses on institutional capacity to strengthen partner institutions from the Global South. It is expected to engage approximately 420 researchers in international research projects, contributing to improved global talent exchange between Canada and other nations..

This year, the six advanced scholars that visited Queen’s came from a range of backgrounds, from a practicing general surgeon to a government health official to PhDs of political science, biostatistics, and nursing. The scholars include Dédé Watchiba and Luc Kalisya Malemo from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ariuntuya Sakhiya and Enkh-Oyun Tsogzolbaatar from Mongolia, and Katemanee Moonpanane and Supaporn Trongsakul from Thailand. Their common cause is equity in maternal and child health research and services.

“I’m currently focused on a literature review, because one of the aims of the scholarship is to improve the capacity of the researchers. I have never done a literature review, so I get to work with a mentor to conduct it,” says Dr. Moonpanane, Postdoctoral Scholar (Nursing) with Mea Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai, Thailand. “The experiences that I gain here, I can teach to those in my faculty.”

Dr. Moonpanane is also working on a research project to raise the accessibility and quality of maternal and child health in Thailand, with the hopes of translating her findings to other countries as well.

The three months that the scholars spend at Queen’s are full of research, projects, and collaboration. A third of the scholars’ time is spent on each individual research, collaborative research and a community-based research placement.

“I have my own research project, which I try to share with the team for their points of view and feedback, and there is also a group project between all of us on parenting in adversity,” says Dr. Watchiba, professor of political science and administrative science with the University of Kinshasa. “On top of these projects, we’re also each involved in projects to support a local community organization. I’m working with HARS, the HIV/AIDS Regional Service, to review their strategic plan, determine if they match international standards, and help them create a monitoring design framework.”

The ARCH faculty involved in the QES-AS program include Heather Aldersey (School of Rehabilitation Therapy), Susan Bartels (Emergency Medicine), Colleen Davison (Public Health Sciences) and Eva Purkey (Family Medicine).

“Hopefully the 90 days that these Advanced Scholars have spent at Queen’s will spark continued collaborations with both the colleagues who came to Canada and with their other colleagues and students at  their home institutions,” says Dr. Aldersey, Interim Director of International Centre for the Advancement of Community Based Rehabilitation (ICACBR).

Queen’s researchers also participated in an outgoing exchange. As an outgoing QES-AS scholar, Dr. Bartels spent 3 months working in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo over the summer splitting her time between l'Université Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs (ULPGL) de Goma and a community research partner, HEAL Africa Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This research placement fostered inter-institutional collaboration through grant writing, co-hosting research workshops, co-writing manuscripts, and planning for future joint research projects.

To find out more about the ARCH, check out their website.