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MSc Global Health 2012-2013

Ife Agboola

Country: Nigeria
Background: Pharmacology
Research Project: A Qualitative Exploration of the Impact of HIV as a Chronic Illness, on Sexual Risk Perceptions of Young Adults (18-24) living in Lagos Nigeria. 

The disparity between knowledge of and adopting safe sexual practices continues to be a prominent issue for both public health workers and social science analysts. The past 10 years have seen exceptional progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, yet the results remain unevenly distributed. Nigeria carries the second largest burden of HIV globally, and low risk perception has been identified as a key driver of the epidemic in the nation. This study explores how HIV as a chronic illness may influence the perceptions of risk in young adults living in Lagos, Nigeria.

One-to-one, in-depth, semi-structured interviews were carried out on a purposive sample of 9 participants drawn from attendees at a VCT centre in a General Hospital in Lagos. The inclusion criteria required that they live in Lagos, were between 18 to 24 years of age, sexually active and HIV-negative.

Findings suggest that the understanding of HIV as a chronic illness is not universal. There remains the view that HIV 'means' death. Although, not much is known about ART, some acknowledged that HIV can be managed based on the availability of treatment, 'good food' and 'love and care'. Risk groups (specifically women and youth) were identified by some respondents, but all respondents perceive a generalized risk to themselves and others, whether they identified as part of such a risk group or not. Respondents acknowledged unprotected sexual intercourse as the primary route of HIV transmission, but there was a perceived risk around personal sharp items (specifically hair clippers and/or blades). While many acknowledged the use of condoms vital for preventing against HIV transmission, a small number of respondents raised doubts about their effectiveness.

Competition between formal and informal sources of information was evident and was thought to contribute to how the young adults perceived HIV. Fear of knowing one's status emerged as a generalised view, with the tendency to deter people from attending VCT. Religious belief systems and 'moral' values also emerged as forces that govern sexual behaviours and responses to risk. The findings in this study suggest that young people should remain centre stage when implementing prevention strategies. Future prevention and intervention programs should focus on reinforcing education about the effectiveness of condoms amongst this group of high-risk individuals, as this is likely to impact on their use. Awareness about available treatments for HIV may help to alleviate some of the fear of VCT. However, the challenge is to alleviate that fear, without introducing complacency about the dangers of HIV. It is hoped that findings from this study will inform future studies and ultimately, responses to control HIV infection.

WORD COUNT: 15, 198

Sahar Binsalem

Country: Saudi Arabia 
Background: Biochemistry
Research Project: Motivations for, and pathways towards losing weight amongst Saudis in Dublin

This study aimed to explore motivation factors and pathways to lose weight in a Saudi community in Dublin/Ireland 2013. In addition, the study aimed to find the differences between these motivation factors and pathways when the participants lived in Saudi and after they moved to Dublin.

Seven participants, four males and three females, were interviewed. A qualitative methodology using semi-structured one-on-one interviews was used. The age of participants ranged between 21-33.

Cold and rainy weather in Dublin was reported to be the most common motivation factor to engage in physical activity among all seven participants. All participants had reported lifestyle changes (in eating habits and exercises) after moving to Dublin helped them to lose weight.

Lifestyle changes are thought to be a successful way to lose weight without causing health hazards. Motivation has a key role in changing lifestyle..

WORD COUNT: 13, 477

Valerie Broderick

Country: Australia
Background: International Development and Food Policy
Research Project: A Study of the Experiences and Opinions of Interns in Irish Hospitals on the Feasibility and Impact of Task Shifting to Reduce Intern Working Hours 

Sierra Leone has an estimated population of 5.6 million, approximately one third of which live in urban areas and more than 50% are below age 19.  Teenage pregnancy has recently emerged as a societal issue.   Each year global statistics estimate that 16 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth and an uncounted number of births are to girls even younger (WHO, 2008a). Approximately 95% of these births occur in low and middle income countries, where early marriage is common (WHO, 2008b).  There is sparse literature associated with the topic of male inclusion in teenage pregnancy prevention in Sub-Saharan Africa. This study aimed to explore the socio-cultural factors associated with male inclusion in teenage pregnancy prevention in Freetown, Sierra Leone.  The study was based on primary investigations and draws on a pilot project as a case study.  Qualitative methods included focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews with project participants and key stakeholders including teenage boys and girls, adult community members, health workers and project staff.   Findings highlight the importance of analysing the axes of power and culture in the GAD approach.  Findings indicate that patriarchal structures and gender norms can disempower women, men, boys and girls and inhibit better reproductive health.  Understanding these and the possible changes, provide valuable insights with which to inform programmes.  Therefore including males is important to support adolescent rights and improve adolescent sexual and reproductive health.  However, sexual and reproductive health information alone is insufficient to address the barriers to better reproductive health.  It is recommended that programmes seek to include gender transformative strategies, partnerships and advocacy efforts to improve address root causes and improve adolescent reproductive health.

Key words: Teenage Pregnancy, patriarchy, gender, masculinity, Sierra Leone

Word Count: 14,455

HeaYoung Cho

Research Project: Optimizing Brain Drain: A qualitative study on the contributions of Nigerian and Sudanese medical doctors living in Ireland to human resources for health in their home countries. 

Lindsey Daudt

Research Project: Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices Survey on Handwashing in Kikulu Zone, Kampala, Uganda: An Evaluation of the HED Project's Handwashing Interventions.

Ellen Fruitjier

Research Project: NGO's perceptions of sociotechnical approaches in the implementation of Information Systems in Emerging Economies

Meghna Kanwar

Research Project: Barriers to the Uptake of Cervical Screening among Women from the Indian Community in Ireland. A qualitative study.

Jessica Knowles

Research Project: Microbiome Variance and Link to Increased Risk and Pathogenesis of Malnutrition: A Systematic Review 

Sergei Moody

Research Project: Effectiveness Assessment of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Interventions in Preventing Diarrhoea Morbidity amongst children under five in rural and urban India and Bangladesh - A Systematic Review

Patrick O'Donnell

Research Project: A Qualitative Study of Medical Students' Experiences of International Health Electives to Developing Countries

Nelson Okonkwo

Research Project: 'It's never too late': Prevalence of Mental Health illness in an aging HIV population  

Angela Richardson

Research Project: Cross-National Comparison of Pathways to Mental Health Care in Middle Eastern Arab Countries: Utilisation, Help-seeking and Access to Services: A Systematic Review

Judy Sweeney

Research Project: What are the experiences of children aged 9-11 who attended a support service in the mid-west of Ireland, following a bereavement, separation or loss?

Ashley White

Research Project: Factors Influencing Adolescent Pregnancy in the Cook Islands: Female Experiences