International Health Senior Interns With the WHO in the Philippines

DECEMBER 5, 2014 - Before heading to the Philippines to begin the practical experience abroad component of the international health major, LeAnn Louis (NHS’15) got herself mentally prepared to spend eight hours a day conducting research in a cubicle.

Instead, she experienced a welcoming environment at the World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific (WPRO) and built strong friendships with the staff and fellow interns.

“I certainly didn’t expect that I’d become a part of the WPRO’s Musical Company and [would] sing at several important meetings,” says Louis.

Learning Opportunities

As part of the WPRO intern team, Louis performed literature reviews of technical documents and interviewed the team leaders in the four units of the organization’s Division of Communicable Diseases.

Her research would serve as a guide for the countries in the Western Pacific region that are seeking to integrate vertical communicable disease – those transmitted directly from a mother to a child during pregnancy or childbirth – programs into the horizontal health system, which provides general prevention and care for health problems.

For Louis, the best aspect of working at the WPRO has been the learning opportunities and presentations that allowed her to expand her knowledge of the global health field.

“Working at WPRO, I realized that every day was something different,” she says. “Fairly quickly, I could be invited to a meeting or attend an expert conference.”

Personal Connection

International health is something very personal to Louis.

She became determined to begin a career in international health, when her aunt, who had sickle cell anemia, died while visiting her parents in a small town in Haiti.

“I knew that I could change this outcome, which led me to discover public health and more importantly, international health at Georgetown,” says Louis.

Building Networks

Louis believes that the experience she acquired as an undergraduate student has given her a strong foundation.

“The networks of people I’ve met and worked with have provided guidance and valuable advice in succeeding in my future career goals,” she says.

Louis, who previously interned at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, dreams of working in maternal patient safety and practice clinical medicine as an obstetrician gynecologist.

“Thinking back on my experience, I know that no other school could have provided me a better experience and education,” says Louis. “If I could wind back the clock, I would definitely choose Georgetown University and the international health program again.”

By Masha Mikey (S’15)