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Avina Joshi awarded Fulbright-Fogarty Global Health Student Fellowship

Medical student will address preventing and treating preeclampsia in Ghana


School of Medicine student
Avina Joshi has been awarded
a Fulbright-Fogarty Award.

School of Medicine student Avina Joshi will combine her interests in global health and obstetrics and gynecology when she spends nine months in Ghana studying knowledge and attitudes about preeclampsia. She will be conducting her public health-focused research as one of 20 recipients nationwide of a Fulbright-Fogarty Award in Public Health.

“I’ve always been interested in global health,” said Joshi, who is a daughter of immigrants and a member of the School of Medicine’s Global Health Pathway. She completed her second-year population health clerkship in refugee health and is a member of the Global Surgery Student Alliance. “The Fulbright-Fogarty lines up so well with what I want to do in the future and is a great opportunity to meet people also interested in careers in global health.”

Fulbright-Fogarty awards are offered through a partnership between the Fulbright Program and the Fogarty International Center of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. They were established to promote the expansion of research in public health and clinical research in resource-limited settings.

Preeclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy that can result in maternal death, premature births and newborn deaths. The U.S. Agency for International Development reports that preeclampsia is the leading cause of maternal deaths in some regions in Ghana. These deaths are preventable, yet essential medicines and tools to treat the disorder are often unavailable.

“Less prenatal care means it is harder for women to know if they are at risk for or have preeclampsia, for example, not recognizing the warning sign of headache,” said Joshi. “The treatment is 48 hours of intravenous magnesium sulfate, but in places like Ghana with limited resources, it is hard to treat someone for that long with that drug.”

Under the supervision of principal investigator Cheryl A. Moyer, MPH, PhD, assistant professor of learning health sciences and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan Medical School, Joshi will survey Ghanaian health care providers and women about their knowledge of and attitudes toward preeclampsia. “The goal is to create an educational campaign based on what we find about misconceptions or misinformation,” she said.

Joshi gained insight and understanding of the social determinants of health in South Africa while an undergraduate at Northeastern University and in Kenya for a UMMS Global Health Pathway summer experience. Currently on a surgical mission trip to Rwanda with urogynecologist Cynthia Hall, MD, associate professor of obstetrics & gynecology at UMMS, Joshi will depart for Ghana mid-summer for her fellowship.

“I’m excited to be representing UMMS as a Fulbright-Fogarty Fellow,” Joshi said. “Applying concepts that you learn about vulnerable populations in global health applies to many communities in the United States as well as internationally. You learn so much about working with people with different backgrounds.”