Aiding Public Health in the UK
Vitamin D, a nutrient found in food and produced by exposure to the sun, is a critical part of both bone development and organ function. A deficiency of the vitamin can lead to rickets, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive impairment. In Bradford, England, a former industrial city known for its large Pakistani immigrant population, Vitamin D deficiency is a serious problem in immigrant communities.
As part of an internship sponsored by the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, Naila Ijaz ’14, spent the summer in Bradford working with the Public Health Department on a Vitamin D outreach campaign. The campaign utilized social media and radio ads, ran information booths at local markets, and staged educational workshops around the city. A key part of Ijaz’s job was to target people who may be at heightened risk for complications of Vitamin D deficiency. “Bradford provides free vitamin D supplements to pregnant women, infants, and children at risk,” she says.
Ijaz, a Chemistry major who has family ties to Pakistan and a family history of Vitamin D deficiency, credits the idea for her summer internship to Chloe Tucker, the International Programs Coordinator at Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship. Tucker had a connection to Dr. Shirley Brierley, a public health consultant in Bradford, and passed that connection on to Ijaz. “Chloe knew of my interest in immigrant health, and thought I would be interested in Dr. Brierley’s work,” says Ijaz.
After her summer work in Bradford concluded in July, Ijaz flew back to the States to begin training at Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia. She considers her summer experience as an ideal stepping-stone from college to medical school. “[Immigrant health] is a field I would like to work in as a physician, while utilizing my familiarity with Urdu and with Pakistan,” she says. “I was able to learn about people from various parts of the world [this summer], and this knowledge will help me when I work with immigrant populations.”
–Kelsey Ryan ’14