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Global Health Fellows: Reflections from Tanzania

This year, eleven Pfizer colleagues from offices around the world came together to serve in the 2018 class of Global Health Fellows, Pfizer’s signature international volunteer program. Through this program, Pfizer pairs colleagues with non-profit partner organizations for volunteer skills-sharing assignments. Four of the 2018 Fellows were selected to support organizations in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, including Population Services International (PSI), Management Sciences for Health (MSH), and FHI 360. Toward the end of their fellowships, each Pfizer colleague reflected on the impact of their work and on their personal and professional experiences.

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(L to R: Mimi Buegeleisen, Tere Gonzalez, Hanneke van Deventer, Jay Shetty)

Hanneke van Deventer, the Pfizer Netherlands Country Lead for Rare Diseases, was assigned to work with PSI to conduct critical field research and to gather insights on current hypertension disease management approaches in Tanzania. As PSI strategically expands its non-communicable disease programming to address the pressing burden of hypertension, Hanneke’s professional experience in the cardiovascular field made her an invaluable resource to the team. At the same time, the fellowship helped expand her own skills. “When I get back to Pfizer, I will be more open to different forms of communication and look to introduce new ways to gain insights or approach problem solving,” said Hanneke. “I’m proud to return to my role with these new skills.” Hear from Hanneke about her experience and what she learned from her time in Tanzania:

 

Another Fellow in Tanzania had the opportunity to work with MSH on a health information system initiative, aimed at improving client management and health service delivery. MSH is providing assistance to the Tanzania Ministry of Health in key technical areas to help achieve HIV epidemic control and sustain HIV-related health systems and services. Jay Shetty, Analytics and Reporting Senior Manager at Pfizer’s New York office, lent his technical skills to this effort. "I am very grateful for the GHF experience. The Fellowship helped me understand the impact of digital technology and collaboration with multiple stakeholders in delivering healthcare services,” said Jay.

Tere Gonzalez, Global Director of Omnichannel and Customer Experience at Pfizer’s Mexico City office, also supported MSH but had a different assignment. She worked on a digital strategy to launch an e-learning platform for healthcare workers, aligned with the country’s Task-Sharing Policy, to support HIV epidemic control. Part of Tere’s work was introducing her MSH colleagues to new software and communication channels to help them reach Tanzania’s health workforce. Tere said her key takeaway from the program would be “implementing things quicker—that mindset will help very much back in Mexico.”

Mimi Buegeleisen, a New York based Senior Director in Commercial Operations, worked with FHI 360 on an integrated health service delivery project being implemented across six regions in southern Tanzania. Mimi’s Fellowship offered her unique opportunities to spend time in the field, shifting her responsibilities from drug development efficiencies at Pfizer to improving the quality of healthcare services in remote villages in Tanzania. Mimi’s field work showed her the complexities of diagnosing and treating patients in a different context. “I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to get closer to patients and improve healthcare in a real and impactful way,” said Mimi. “These experiences have given me new perspectives and shaped how I approach challenges.”