Aref Senno - Gaborone, Botswana/Kampala, Uganda

Career goal: To attend medical school to focus on infectious disease medicine. My career will be focused on global health medicine, splitting my time between clinical and broader public health initiatives.

Internship outline: Aref's internship was completed with the southern Africa branch of the Futures Institute, a  global health economic consultancy company. The southern Africa branch primarily works on HIV in Botswana where the adult prevalence is 23.8 percent. Aref's projects worked ranged in scope and purpose:

  • Developed an excel-based costing tool for non-clinical services in HIV clinics for use by the Ministry of Health to assess the potential costs of privatization.
  • Wrote a research article for publication on the costs of HIV Testing and Counseling (HTC) in the private/public sector in Botswana.
  • Helped build economic research capacity in Uganda by hosting a week-long conference for the Ministry of Health, UNAIDS and NGOs.
  • Authored a historical analysis of ACHAP, a public-private partnership responsible for over $300 million of ARV and financial support over the past 15 years. The report will be used to garner additional funding in the wake of donor pullout.

Value of experience: Before this internship I had very little experience in an incredibly important discipline of public health: economics. I learned about financial modeling, economic research and the power/value of this field. Additionally, I increased my understanding of the HIV crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. It was critical to actually see the countries to contextualize my education.

Best moment/experience: The second week of my internship I attended a meeting on the Botswana Global Fund application. My company was presenting economic models for different spending scenarios to some of the top HIV/AIDS experts in the country. The meeting was attended by the National Coordinator of the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (The top HIV/AIDS position in the country), the head of UNAIDS, the Ministry of Health, ACHAP, the Botswana-Harvard Partnership, the Botswana-UPenn Partnership. I got to hear them discuss the policy which will shape Botswana’s HIV response for the next 15 years!

Funding source: Curtis D. Heaney Memorial Fellowship

Aref Senno