This summer, I spent three months in Nepal for my Masters Dissertation project, which is focused on primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD). As non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as CVD, diabetes and cancer, are becoming a heavier burden for Nepali Health System, I wanted to explore the possibility of engaging Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHVs) in the health system as a part of the task force for NCD prevention and management.
I was lucky to have HERD INTERNATIONAL as my research collaborator; I learned a lot from the team. As this project is my first independent research in a foreign country, I felt overwhelmed to be the primary investigator before coming to Nepal. I was worried whether I could finish my project with such limited time and budget. However, most of my concerns were assured after I had my first face-to-face meeting with authority in HERD INTERNATIONAL.
On my first day in HERD INTERNATIONAL’s office, the team shared their thoughts with me and helped me a lot in understanding local context. I took a lot of advantage of my coworkers’ rich experience of health research in Nepal and refined my research proposal based on our discussions. During the process of data collection, the team also helped me a lot in dealing with unanticipated problems.
My work in Nepal ran very smoothly with the support of team members and participants. However, I had some difficulties during the process. The first was applying for Nepal Health Research Council’s approval for my project which took one and half month. Therefore, I would suggest following student researchers like me to apply for NHRC approval as early as possible. Language barrier was another challenge for me. As I worked closely with FCHVs who did not speak English, I could not communicate directly with my research participants.
I believe the three-month experience in Nepal would be an unforgettable memory for me. I greatly appreciate every staff at HERD INTERNATIONAL for their support. I would not have been able to finish my project without their support. In future, I wish to come back to Nepal and share my findings with everyone in person.
Yuewen Sun, MSc of Global Health, Class of 2018, Duke Kunshan University spent three months in Nepal for her research. She can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org