July 19, 2017

Global Health Mission Trip 2017: Conducting Health Education in Belize

By Dr. Kelly Wheeler, Adjunct Faculty for the Master of Public Health Program | Health and Human Services

This February, six global health M.P.H. students and faculty from Concordia University, Nebraska traveled to the town of Punta Gorda in Southern Belize. Their mission? To provide health education to Garifuna and Mayan children at schools in the Toledo District.

The team also partnered and served alongside Hillside Healthcare International (HHI) staff providing home healthcare and education. Students experienced both challenges and triumphs in the field, and through their persistent efforts, learned to engage in effective global health education—while gaining the experience of a lifetime.

3 Steps of a Successful Mission Trip

1. Preparation

Before the trip, the Concordia Nebraska global health team conducted literature reviews on five health topics: dental hygiene, hand hygiene, nutrition, diabetes prevention, and oral rehydration. They also researched key health and demographic information and compiled data. The team’s formative research was used to plan dynamic, interactive school health lessons that could be adjusted based on knowledge acquired on the ground.

2. Adaptation

In Belize, the Concordia Nebraska global health team’s efforts were enhanced by learning and adapting to the culture, beliefs and preferences of the culturally diverse, multiethnic students being served. Rather than presenting health topics in a lecture format, team members engaged students in a conversational round table format using creative, interactive methods.

3. Partnership

To accomplish the health education activities, the Concordia Nebraska global health team partnered with the faith-based nonprofit organization, HHI. HHI provides free medical care, physical therapy and rehabilitation and pharmacy services to their clients in clinics and homes throughout the Toledo District of southern Belize. HHI also offers public health education activities, including health fairs and screenings, to the communities they serve. And they provide medical and public health rotations and practicums to students in training, and offer room and board on their medical campus.

Future Belize Practicum Opportunities

As part of the Concordia Nebraska-HHI collaboration, Concordia Nebraska now offers M.P.H. practicum opportunities in Southern Belize. HHI works with M.P.H. students to tailor the practicum plan to their specific interests. Practicum length may range from a week to several weeks or months, depending on the plan that is developed.

The Concordia Nebraska Difference

At Concordia Nebraska, the M.P.H. in Community Health Education program offers students the opportunity to acquire global health skills and apply them in countries across the globe. The program equips students with the necessary tools to engage community members in creating effective community health programs.

Become a leader in the public health field—learn more about Concordia’s M.P.H. programs: Community Health Education and Health Policy and Administration.

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