Utano Public Health Chats

A biweekly podcast where people get to learn more about public health work in Africa and how to navigate their public health careers. First Season kicks off with interviews from different public health practitioners and researchers from different African countries and/or working in African countries in public health.

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Friday Dec 23, 2022

Check out our season finale with Dr. Constancia Mavodza , a global and public health (process evaluation) practitioner, with experience in coordination, implementing and evaluating public health projects focusing on HIV/AIDS, SRHR, human resources for health, and AGYW.

Friday Nov 18, 2022

Who is Chrystal and what does she do? 
What led Chrystal to the work she does today?
What Chrystal studied at the undergraduate level and how that led her to public health work 
Chrystal’s decision to pursue a Master of Public Health degree (MPH) and what she is focusing on in her program as she is pursuing it (Community Health)
Why Chrystal chose to do the online option for her MPH degree
A day in the life of Chrystal and her roles 
Dzidzo safepad initiative: what its about, what motivated it and what work goes into it 
Where funding and support for Dzidzo Safepad comes from 
Global Changemakers and their support for Dzidzo safepad-https://www.global-changemakers.net/ 
How long does each pad last?
How they target and decide which schools to work with 
What Chrystal enjoys and loves about working on Dzidzo Safepad 
Chrystal’s role as a Her Voice ambassador through the Global Fund
How Chrystal defines public health for herself 
Importance of equity and inclusivity in public health work and interventions
Word to the wise- advice for young people and people looking to enter the field
Resources and links:
* The ecocash number for Dzidzo Safepad donations is +263 772935923  

Friday Oct 28, 2022

In this episode our guest is Sandra Isano a Rwandan pharmacist, Lecturer, and Coordinator for Community Based Education in the Department of Community Health, and Social Medicine at the University of Global Health Equity with over 10 years of experience in the field. 
We talked about:
Sandra’s background and the work she does now and where she works 
Where Sandra’s journey in public health started, and what she wanted to be when she was younger
How working as a community pharmacist got her interested in patients beyond the treatment and medication they were coming to seek 
Her work as a fellow with Global Health Corps 
Rwanda’s High School pathway and where people choose to specialize 
Which one’s are the community pharmacies?
How and why pharmacies serve as a first line of care and health service delivery 
How capacity building at pharmacies can be an additional solution in provided primary care
How pharmacy, GHC fellowship and now her current work as a lecturer doing community community research all inspire and motivate her interests
What her current work at UGHE looks like and includes 
Teaching, research and community service 
Highlights of some of Sandra’s research projects and outcomes from them 
Sandra’s PhD project, and what motivated her to study for a PhD a focus on teen mothers at refugee camps in Rwanda, and what questions and information she will be looking into 
Sandra’s favorite thing about working in public health 
How Sandra defines public health 
Sandra’s least favorite thing about working in public health 
Words of advice to those starting out in the public health field and their careers
Love as a public health intervention and the social ecological model! 
https://ghcorps.org/ -Global Health Corps website
https://ughe.org/ -University of Global Health Equity website
https://ur.ac.rw/- University of Rwanda website 

Friday Oct 07, 2022

In this episode we chat with Tatenda Diura, a humanitarian worker from Zimbabwe. 
We discuss:
A brief introduction of her background, her current work and where she is based, and what she specializes in, in her work 
What is safeguarding and how long has she been doing this work? 
Her background and journey to public health , what she studied, her internship experience in Zimbabwe
How she found out about public health and how she ended up doing her Masters degree in public health 
What influenced her career decisions at every juncture in her journey
How she used resources available to her to search for jobs
How she navigated the catch 22 of jobs requiring experience and experience being gotten through jobs and got her first job after her Master’s degree
How she has leveraged changing organizations and roles to grow in her career
The principle of do not harm and how it is the cornerstone of safeguarding work in humanitarian settings
Examples of the kind of work she does in safeguarding
Behavior Change Communication and how her sociology degree is now relevant in her work 
What a survivor centered approach in humanitarian work is and what that looks like
The importance of understanding context in populations that we serve in public health 
How heavy humanitarian work can be at times 
What Tatenda’s likes the most about the work that she does 
What measures are in place in the humanitarian field to ensure that humanitarian workers maintain their mental, physical and emotional wellbeing 
Burnout in humanitarian work 
The risk of being desensitized doing the work and the importance of rest and unplugging between projects and assignments
The importance of empathy and mot sympathy while doing work 
What keeps Tatenda going in the field, even with high turnover rates
What does public health mean for Tatenda
Vulnerable populations that Tatenda works with and how that is defined
Words of wisdom 
How Tatenda has used LinkedIn to grow in her career

Friday Sep 23, 2022

In this episode we hear from  Dr. Chido Dziva Chikwari, an Epidemiologist from Zimbabwe about her work and career journey in public health for the past 9 years. 
We talked about:
Chido’s current roles and how long she has been doing health research work 
Chido’s background and career journey and how she ended up doing the work she does now
How she ended up doing an Master’s degree in Epidemiology and what influenced her choices 
The importance of career guidance and the right vocabulary in career decision making 
What is an epidemiologist and what do they do?- With examples 
The things she likes about working in Epidemiology and research 
How she has used her skills to pivot to different program areas over the years 
Her research project on increasing access and uptake of HIV testing for children in Zimbabwe that she conducted as part of her PhD 
How the findings from her research work became relevant when COVID-19 broke out  in 2019 
How we are going to make a movie on Chido’s Doctoral research 
What are Chido’s top favorite reasons she likes about working in public health research 
The value and importance of having a good community of people to work with 
What public health means to Chido 
For the good of everybody
What good for everyone includes and entails from access, universal health coverage, priority populations, COVID-19 global response 
The importance of meeting people where they are in public health interventions eg. COVID-19 vaccines and prevention 
Chido’s advice to young people and all people of all ages on career paths 
What Chido knows now about the field of public health that wishes she had known or understood earlier
Public Health is a lot of work?
Where is the money in Public health? Is there money in public health work?
Career advice and tips are relevant throughout the lifecourse 
Things change, career pivots happen, life happens
Check out  https://www.thruzim.org/  for all the research work  

Friday Sep 09, 2022

In this episode we hear from Joy Kamunyori, a digital health and project management professional from Kenya about her 14 year career assessing, developing and implementing public health IT systems in sub-Saharan African countries. 
We discussed:
Joy’s background what she studied and how she ended working in public health 
How her passion for education and development and skillset landed her in a public health role that started of her career
How she became interested in Computers  and eventually chose to study computer science 
What she likes and drew her to coding and computer science 
How mentorship played a significant role in her career and choices at many junctures 
Her experience pursuing graduate studies in Computer Science 
What her work looks like now, in scale and range and the kinds of problems she supports solving 
How she considers herself an interpreter in her work in digital health and what that looks like 
How her roles have changed as her career has progressed in the field 
The relationship between Public health, education and development 
How Digital Health as a field  and use of technology for health started, emerged and has now expanded to be integral in public health systems 
Challenges and key considerations for countries as they transition to having fully digital health information systems and how Joy has come across and been part of these conversations
What are Joy’s favorite things about doing her work 
What public health means to Joy 
Joy’s advice to a younger self 
Top 3 skills she recommends to work on in the field

Friday Aug 19, 2022

In this episode we talked with Will Moyo an Bioengineer from Zimbabwe. Will is the Engineering Innovation Design Studio Manager for Rice 360 Institute for Global Health Technologies.
We discussed:
Will’s background and the kind of work she does now
What is Bioengineering and what training she received to get there
What motivated her to pursue a career in Bioengineering 
Invention education and how its used at the Design studios where she works 
What are Design Studios and training offered there 
What Will does on a day to day basis in her role 
The different kind of funders who support their work 
The need for support and investment in inventions, innovation and education for long term success “Funding people to fail”
Challenges associated with innovation and global health technologies in an African context 
What is Will's favorite part of the work that she does 
The value of impactful work and seeing effort come to fruition
What public health means to Will 
Everything is Public Health!
Is Will Shuri from Black Panther??? 
The importance of medical devices and access in public health 
The Importance of investing in education for health so as to improve  health outcomes 
The need to train engineers and technical workforce practically so they know how to work with biomedical equipment in the real world 
Other African countries where the model of design studios are currently being implemented
Who makes a good Biomedical engineer?
What it takes and good skills to have in the field 
The different kind of stakeholders Will and her students get to work with 
Regulation and standardization for medical device design and invention in African countries
Challenges and frustrations from working in education and invention and innovative work in the global health technologies space
How their program was able to generate income for themselves by being innovative at the beginning of the pandemic 
What does Will know now, that she wishes she knew earlier
Words of Wisdom 
Resource plugs 
Tips of reaching out and getting opportunities in the field 

Thursday Aug 04, 2022

This episode we heard from Dr. Itumeleng Ntatamala, an Occupational Medicine Specialist and Senior Lecturer in the Occupational Medicine Division in the School of Public Health at University of Cape Town’s Faculty of Health Sciences.
We talked about: 
Dr. Itumeleng’s background and his current roles 
What drew him to medicine, public health and then occupational health 
How his interests in clinical care influenced his interest to do public health work 
Defining occupational health and occupation medicine and how they sit under public health 
The aim of occupational health 
What occupational health looks like and the different types of workers and professionals who work in it 
Examples of the types of work dealt with in occupational health 
How he splits his time between clinical work, public health work, research and teaching 
The wide range of patients and medical issues that they see and the different work industries they work with in occupational medicine
Where Dr. Itumeleng finds the most joy and fulfillment in his work 
The need for more people to be interested and work in Occupational health, in South Africa and beyond 
COVID and its impact on occupational health 
Different types of trainings that people can undergo to gain skills in and pivot to start working in occupational health 
Why there is not as many people going into the field and being aware that the field of occupational health exists as a career path in public health 
Challenges in limited opportunities for training in South Africa and in the region 
How he defines public health and what public health means to him 
Advice for anyone looking to go into medicine and/or public health 
Following  your passion and taking it one step at a time
Advice for those that might be interested specifically in pivoting into occupational health 
Skills that he has found the most useful 
Attending short courses in what you are interested 
Reading more about occupational health  eg :International Labor Organization ILO https://www.ilo.org/global/lang--en/index.htm 
Health & Safety Executive(HSE)  https://www.hse.gov.uk/ 
National Institute of Occupational Health SA (NIOH) https://www.nioh.ac.za/# 
and local National Occupational health bodies 
Areas that connect to occupational health eg psychology or social work or physiotherapy 
Can reach out about programs to him on Linked in or via email at for questions about the field and programs 

Friday Jul 22, 2022

In this episode with Dorcas Kareithi a clinical trials statistician from Kenya currently based in the UK we discussed:
Dorcas’s  background and how her love for Math led her to study Applied Statistics
What she calls herself 
Dorcas’s love for data, data  puns and t shirts with them
All the key steps she took to end up working in health with her skillset
Difference between being a researcher and statistician 
What influenced her interest in health from family to books she read growing up 
How she ended up working in health after her Bachelor's degree  and key steps she took to lead herself there
Mentorship and the role it has played in her career
Different types of mentors
Highlights from her current and previous work
What is her favorite thing about her work and working in public health 
What she likes the least about working in public health 
Ethics in public health research
Inequalities in healthcare access
The importance of government buy in and will to bridge research findings to policy and implementation 
Importance of documenting failures in research 
Her top 3 software recommendations
Words of wisdom especially to people looking to have careers in statistics 
Her resource plugs:
Young African Statisticians (YASA): https://twitter.com/africanyas
Words that count:  https://twitter.com/wordsafrica
RLadies Nairobi: https://twitter.com/rladiesnairobi

Friday Jul 08, 2022

In this episode we talked with Siyabonga Ndwandwe, a computational health economist from Eswatini currently based in London about his to journey to working in Public health and what it has been like for him. In the episode we discussed:
What is computational health economics and what that entails 
His background and motivation to study health economics and work in public health 
Using an economic framework, economics principles and tools, to understand health care system and answer and solve health related problems 
What type of health data is there, the different sources, who collects it and why?
Privacy , security and the need for regulation of using health data in the world of Big Data
Stakeholders in public health and how they are involved in the work
The kinds of questions being answered in the field of health economics and in Siya’s work 
What a typical day, or typical week looks like in his current role 
Highlights of different roles and projects that Siya has done in the different roles and countries he has worked in
What public health means to Siyabonga and how he defines it
The Public Health Elephant!
What he likes about Health Systems Research 
Siya’s favorite things about working in public health 
A little bit of ethics and philosophy of economics in health systems using COVID as an example
Challenges that come with working with data  depending on the context
The difference between learning how to work and learning the work 
Word to the wise


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