Each year the Sparkman Center for Global Health awards mutiple $1,000 Moses Sinkala Travel Scholarships to assist students in completing an international research or internship opportunity. In the spring of 2016, UAB Sparkman Center Fellow, Reshmi Mukerji, was awarded the Moses Sinkala Travel Scholarship to assist with her research interests regarding tuberculosis (TB) and social stigma in Kolkata, India. Under the mentorship of UAB Sparkman Scholar, Dr. Janet Turan, Ms. Mukerji traveled to Kolkata, India in the summer of 2016  to collect data for her research project. Dr. Turan and Ms. Mukerji's manuscript from the research, entitled "Exploring Manifestations of TB-Related Stigma Experienced by Women in Kolkata, India" was recently accepted into the Annals of Global Health. The Annals of Global Health is an academic journal that aims to disseminate knowledge on the latest findings in relation to global health and research and prevention and treatment of disease worldwide. The Sparkman Center for Global Health would like to highlight Ms. Mukerji's achievement and her career path in relation to TB and social stigma. For more information on the Moses Sinkala Travel Scholarship, click here. To read Ms. Mukerji's account of her career path, please view the piece below:

Mukerji ReshmiPhoto provided by: Reshmi Mukerji

"I started the MPH program in Healthcare Organization and Policy in the Spring of 2016.  Right from the beginning of the program I knew that I was interested in global health, which led me to seek out opportunities in this area at UAB.  During my initial meeting with my program advisor, Dr. Stephen Mennemeyer, we discussed my interest in global health and avenues for global health work at UAB.  Dr. Mennemeyer informed me about both the Sparkman Center and Dr. Janet Turan and her research in Africa.  When I went home that night and looked up Dr. Turan’s profile on the UAB website, I knew immediately that I wanted to work with her! I was always intrigued by the social stigma surrounding certain diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) and HIV.  Coming from India, where gender disparities are still rife, I was particularly interested in how stigma impacted women.  As Dr. Turan wrote to me in her first email, “It sounds like we have many common interests and passions” and so began our journey on this research project!  Dr. Turan mentored me through the development of the research proposal for the Moses Sinkala travel grant (which I received in the Spring of 2016), the IRB application process once I was awarded the grant, and of course throughout the course of this entire research project. I was also chosen for the Sparkman Fellowship for the year 2016-17 and Dr. Turan was my mentor for this program as well. 

In the summer of 2016 I traveled to Kolkata, India to collect data for this research project. The study itself was an exploration of the social stigma experienced by women patients attending a directly observed therapy-short course (DOTS) TB clinic in Kolkata, India. I had volunteered at this particular TB clinic before, during my time working at an affiliated non-profit in Kolkata.  We decided to conduct a qualitative study to understand the different dimensions of stigma experienced by women who were either on TB treatment or had completed treatment.  Current conceptualizations of stigma classifies stigma into four categories: perceived stigma (feeling that those without the condition perceive people with the condition negatively), anticipated stigma (expectations of discrimination, stereotyping, and/or prejudice from others post disclosure due to a stigmatized condition or behavior), enacted stigma (experiences of discrimination, stereotyping, and/or prejudice from others in the past or present due to the stigmatizing condition) and internalized stigma (endorsing negative feelings and beliefs associated with the stigmatized condition and applying them to the self).  Very few studies have used this framework to describe the stigma experienced by TB patients.

We also explored the mechanisms used by women to cope with the experiences of stigma and TB.  I conducted qualitative in-depth interviews with twenty women between the ages of 18-64 years from different faiths, but from similar socioeconomic levels and educational backgrounds. Our findings revealed that widespread stigma was experienced by women TB patients. Stigma manifested itself through social isolation, avoidance, failed marriage prospects, neglect from family members, gossip and verbal abuse. Some of the consequences of stigma included non-disclosure (which had an impact on TB transmission and control), feelings of guilt and mental health issues, which included feelings of depression, anxiety and even suicidal ideation. Coping mechanisms used by the women to deal with these negative experiences included prayer, positive reframing, being able to talk to other patients (for which the communal nature of DOTS provides an excellent platform), and focusing on school work or relaxation activities.  We hope that the study findings can be used to design stigma-reduction interventions through the formation of social support groups and awareness programs that dispel some of the misconceptions surrounding TB. The manuscript from this study, entitled “Exploring Manifestations of TB-Related Stigma Experienced by Women in Kolkata, India” has been accepted for publication in the Annals of Global Health."


-Author: Reshmi Mukerji, UAB MPH Graduate

Sparkman Center Fellow 2016-2017

 New software makes educational materials more accessible in developing nations

The Sparkman Center for Global Health has partnered with developers in Zambia and Ethiopia to develop a software solution to address two challenges in developing nations: lack of textbooks or educational resources and lack of internet. “We looked for alternative solutions to provide educational resources for students in these two countries, but found they were not effective,” said Craig Wilson, M.D., professor in the UAB School of Public Health. “Our students even collected textbooks to take to Africa, but they were both heavy and expensive to transport. We began looking for alternative modes of delivery. The new software is cost-effective and practical in delivering educational materials to an area with limited resources, like Zambia and Ethiopia, and potentially parts of rural Alabama.” 



To read more on this ground-breaking software, view the official UAB News article here:

UAB News


Content above written by: Alicia Rohan, UAB News

Rohan, Alicia. “New software makes educational materials more accessible in developing nations.” UAB News. UAB News, 10 October 2017. Web. 10 October 2017.

Due to the ongoing support from the UAB Sparkman Center for Global Health to improve health in high-risk for HIV populations and communities, five studies were accepted for publication in 2017 that highlight the immense societal-level and individual-level challenges faced by women in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.


-Budhwani H, Hearld KR, Charow R, Hasbun J, Rosario S, Tillotson L, McGlaughlin E, and Waters J. “Transgender female sex workers’ HIV knowledge, negative exposures, and condom use with coercive partners, clients, and trusted partners: results from a sample study conducted in the Dominican Republic.” 2017. PLOS ONE. See: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0186457

-Budhwani H, Hearld KR, Milner A, Charow R, McGlaughlin E, Rosario S, Rodriguez-Lauzurique RM, and Paulino-Ramirez R. “Transgender Women’s Drug Use in the Dominican Republic.” Transgender Health. 2017. See: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/TRGH.2017.0032

-Hearld KR and Budhwani H. “Maternal Health Care Utilization by Pregnant Women Living with HIV in Haiti: An Analysis of Individual and Community Factors Associated with Prenatal, Delivery, and Postnatal Health Care Utilization.” Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. 2017 Nov;28(4):1452-1461. 

-Budhwani H, Hearld KR, Milner A, Charow R, McGlaughlin E, Rosario S, Rodriguez-Lauzurique RM, and Paulino-Ramirez R. “Transgender Women’s Experiences with Stigma, Trauma, and Attempted Suicide in the Dominican Republic.” Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior. 2017. See: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/sltb.12400/full

-Budhwani H, Turan B, Hasbun J, Rosario S, Tillotson L, McGlaughlin E, and Waters J. “Association between violence exposure and condom non-use among transgender sex workers in the Dominican Republic: the mediating role of trust.” International Journal of STD & AIDS. 2017 May;28(6):608-612. See: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27383842


The UAB Sparkman Center for Global Health thanks its partners for their ongoing collaboration: Dr. Caroline Gomes, Dr. John Waters, and Mr. Ivan Cruickshank with the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition based in Jamaica (CVC), Dr. Robert Paulino with Universidad Iberoamericana located in the Dominican Republic (UNIBE), Mr. Santo Rosario and Ms. Rebecca Charow with El Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral also located in the Dominican Republic (COIN), Ms. Elaine McGlaughlin with the United Nations Population Fund in Honduras (UNFPA), Dr. Adrienne Milner with Queen Mary University in the United Kingdom (Blizzard Institute), and Dr. Henna Budhwani, Director of Caribbean Initiatives with the UAB Sparkman Center for Global Health.

The Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) was founded in 2001 in Birmingham, Alabama as a collaborative, non-profit organization between the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Zambia School of Medicine and the Zambian government. CIDRZ collaborators envisioned having the ability to conduct maternal-child research within the existing Zambian infrastructure. Through subsequent large scale programs supported predominantly by the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) initiative, CIDRZ supported researchers and staff have facilitated supportive health programs within 336 clinics across ten provinces in Zambia to scale-up health efforts in the areas of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT), adult and pediatric HIV/AIDS antenatal care, and medical male circumcision initiatives and other programs.  For more information on the history of CIDRZ, please click here (CIDRZ).

CIDRZ provides an opportunity for early and mid-career public health professionals to receive health practice training by way of the CIDRZ HealthCorps Health Research Training Fellowship. CIDRZ Fellows gain hands-on experience in programme and data management, analysis, and development in the areas of professional presentations and manuscripts. You can view additional details in relation to the CIDRZ HealthCorps Health Research Training Fellowship here (hyperlink). The Sparkman Center for Global Health has co-sponsored two UAB Sparkman-CIDRZ Zambian HealthCorps fellows for the 2017-2018 year: Ms. Mbaita Shawa and Dr. Chileshe Mabula. Enquiries about the CIDRZ Health Corps Fellowship can be sent here: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For additional information on Ms. Shawa and Dr. Mabula, please read below: 


Mbaita Shawa Zambia CIDRZ

Mbaita holds an MPH degree with a concentration in Global Health from Simon Fraser University, Canada.  She previously worked at the Zambia Center for Applied Health Research and Development (ZCAHRD), on an Early-Childhood Development project. Mbaita applied to be a UAB Sparkman Centre CIDRZ HealthCorps Fellow because she has ‘always admired and been inspired by the CIDRZ work in Zambia’. While at CIDRZ, Mbaita will be working with the social qualitative research team and will be supervised by Dr Roma Chilengi and Jenala Chipungu.


Chileshe Mabula Zambia CIDRZ

Dr Mabula holds a BA in Human Development from the University of California, San Diego, and a Medical Degree from The University of Zambia. Dr Mabula gained research experience when she worked in labs and on studies in San Diego and Lusaka; implemented a successful intervention for adolescents living with HIV in Eastern Province; and worked as a Medical Officer in Chipata where she developed a keen interest in improving patient engagement and access to care. As a UAB Sparkman Centre CIDRZ HealthCorps Fellow she will be attached to the Clinical Trials Team and supervised by Dr Roma Chilengi.