About me: I am a Namibian student pursuing my PhD in Public Health at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa. I have eight years experience in HIV and Health Systems research, having obtained my Master's in Public Health at UCT in 2013 and worked as an epidemiologist and consultant for USAID/ PEPFAR funded initiatives (Anova Health Institute, Health4Men, mHealth for Community Health Workers).
Kindly view my LinkedIn account:https://za.linkedin.com/in/monika-kamkuemah-a58008...
And find more on my research and publications here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Monika_Kamkue...
Mission: I need to raise R88,000 (€5400) by 31 January 2020 in order to register for my final year and consolidate, analyze and write up the results of my PhD research focussing on chronic diseases and their risk factors in adolescents and youth (10- 24 years) living with HIV in peri-urban Cape Town.
Your contribution will enable me to cover my tuition (R27,000), accommodation (R42,000) and living expenses (R19,000) and subsequently submit my thesis in August 2020. The complexity of the data collection process, requiring access to vulnerable minor participants living with a highly stigmatized condition, extended my overall study period over three years at which point the allocated scholarship funding I had received from the university was capped.
Motivation: I was motivated to embark on this research studying Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) (i.e. diabetes, cancers, cardiovascular-, chronic respiratory-, and mental health conditions) and their risk factors in teenagers born and living with HIV in peri-urban Cape Town due to emerging evidence that NCDs will be the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030.
Teenagers living with HIV are at increased risk of developing these diseases compared to their peers both due to HIV-infection and the long-term effects of antiretroviral treatment. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest global burden of HIV, but limited information on intersection of NCDs and HIV. Particularly, NCD risk in HIV+ adolescents in the context of rapid urbanisation.
I have collected data from medical folders, physical examinations and participant interviews across the Cape Flats over the past year and a half. This has been a humbling and enlightening experience, interacting with young people who are eager to learn, and make the most of dire circumstances. Many display resilience and tenacity despite facing the death of a parent at a young age and living in impoverished, traumatised communities subject to gang violence and high murder rates.
The determinants of health are largely socio-economic. People don't choose where they come from and the circumstances they are born into.These are all factors I had to be cognisant of as a researcher so as not to propagate a victim narrative, but at the same time, display cultural and contextual sensitivity.
I intend to use the results to inform more integrated and comprehensive models of care for the youth (especially those living with chronic conditions like HIV) which includes prevention and screening for NCDs. Adolescence is the optimal time to introduce healthier behaviours and enhance protective factors to significantly change an individual’s health as they transition into adulthood. I owe it to the participants who allowed me to prod into their lives on highly sensitive issues to ensure that their stories are heard, by dissemination of my findings.
My future career plans are to conduct more public health research addressing the needs of adolescents and youth in the context of urbanisation. Any assistance towards realising this goal will have long-term impact in generating knowledge and informing evidence-based solutions to a pertinent issue.