Global Health Internship

The Costello Medical Global Health Internship aims to provide a long-term solution to the need for evidence-based health policies and treatments in low- or middle-income countries.

In our unique Global Health Internship, in partnership with the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge, we offer a professional from a low- or middle-income country the opportunity to spend three months working with us on a healthcare problem relevant to their community. We share our skills and knowledge in evidence-based medicine, medical communication and health economics through working together.

Past projects have included:

  • Conducting a literature review on the effectiveness of telemedicine in developing countries
  • Creating an educational PDF about illegitimate drugs in Latin America
  • Assessing the cost-effectiveness of cervical cancer screening in Kenya

Our ultimate goal is to support public health efforts to reduce the burden of disease in low- or middle-income countries. The Costello Medical Global Health Internship Scheme also supports the intern’s professional development, which we hope allows them to train other local practitioners in evidence-based medicine after successful completion of the internship.

Sumesh Khanal, a trainee doctor from Nepal, spent three months investigating the effectiveness of telemedicine programmes in developing countries, inspired by his experience of telemedicine in remote regions in Nepal during his medical training.

Sumesh and a team at Costello Medical conducted a systematic literature review to understand the barriers to sustainable telemedicine programmes in developing countries, considering organisation, costs and technology. We then prepared a narrative summary of the evidence and recommendations for improved reporting of telemedicine programmes to help others assessing the effectiveness of telemedicine programmes in the future. The research has been published in Telemedicine and e-Health.

 

Maria Paula Mahecha, a recent medical graduate from Colombia, spent three months researching the potential impact and regional awareness of illegitimate medicinal drugs in the Latin American region. Maria Paula and the Costello Medical team conducted a systematic literature review to assess the availability of evidence for successful interventions against illegitimate drugs in the region. In addition, an online survey was sent out to Colombian healthcare professionals to assess their level of awareness of the issue; the answers of the 53 respondents were analysed to determine the proportion of participants who were able to correctly identify cases of illegitimate drugs that occur in clinical practice.

The research outputs were synthesised into a visually-stimulating interactive PDF designed to help healthcare professionals understand the problem and explain how they should report any potential issues they may find in their clinical practice. The material is now available for download from the website of the Colombian Medical Federation. An English language version is also available.

Kennedy Ndirangu, a Pharmacist and Sub County Medical Officer of Health from Kenya, spent three months building a model to assess the cost-effectiveness of cervical cancer screening in HIV-positive women in Kenya. Kennedy’s interest in this topic was sparked by the HIV endemic in Kenya and the higher incidence of cervical cancer in HIV-infected women.

The Costello Medical team supported Kennedy with his decision tree and Markov model design and build, and with literature reviews to provide inputs for the model itself. The results from the model suggest that screening HIV-infected women in Kenya would be associated with a QALY gain, and that it would be cost-effective. Kennedy hopes that the results from the model can help to persuade the health department in his local area to screen women attending HIV clinics for cervical cancer. We are supporting Kennedy with the dissemination of his research through a publication and a policy brief.

“The internship has been a rewarding experience in many different ways. I had the most valuable opportunity to work with many talented people from such diverse backgrounds but yet with singularity of purpose – the drive to learn.”

Sumesh Khanal, Global Health Intern 2013

“The internship allowed me to improve my skills in medical research, verbal and written communication and evidence based medicine; I am going to share these skills with my colleagues in Colombia and contribute to improving the quality of medical research in my country.”

Maria Paula Mahecha, Global Health Intern 2015

“The GHI has been an exciting endeavour for me. The objectives I had when starting have been met and surpassed and the Costello Medical environment has been very welcoming, warm and conducive to work in. While I will be heading back home with a unique set of vital scientific skills in health service decision making, the most significant outcomes will be the connections I have made.”

Kennedy Ndirangu, Global Health Intern 2016