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June 17, 2022

GHI Fellow Spotlight: Valeria Navarro (G’22)

Each fall and spring semester, the Global Health Institute (GHI) selects a group of exemplary students to conduct global health research alongside faculty mentors through the GHI Student Fellows Program. Valeria Navarro (G'22) was selected to join the spring 2022 cohort.

GHI Student Fellow Valeria Navarro (G'22)
GHI Student Fellow Valeria Navarro (G'22)

Valeria, a graduate student in the Master of Science in Global Health Program and Global Health Initiative student fellow, spent the spring 2022 semester working with Dr. Christian Hunter to conduct research on sexually transmitted infections in women living with HIV in Africa.

An essential aspect of Valeria’s work inside and outside of the classroom is the emphasis she places on social justice and amplifying a diverse set of voices within the global health field. Born and raised in Lima, Peru, she trained to be a medical doctor at Cayetano Heredia Peruvian University, where she participated in medical research and provided care through telemedicine services in Peru. Part of her research included working with women living with HIV, an experience that informed the research she later conducted as a GHI student fellow. 

Representing GHI at the Consortium of Universities for Global Health Conference

Valeria represented Georgetown as an attendee at the 2022 conference of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH), one of the professional development opportunities offered to GHI student fellows. CUGH promotes scholarship in global health and well-being at academic institutions around the world; its 170 member institutions include Georgetown University. Their annual conference, held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, featured speakers and attendees from six continents addressing the theme “Healthy People, Healthy Planet, Social Justice.” 

Valeria’s training and experiences tailored her focus to sessions on decolonizing global health and global health implementation science. One of her favorite parts of the conference was reconnecting with a speaker who touched on both issues: Patricia García, former Peruvian minister of health and one of Valeria’s medical school professors. Dr. García’s presentation shared examples of successful programs that she oversaw during her tenure as minister, including programs for promoting HPV vaccination. 

Building Partnership in Global Health

The conference emphasized the importance of embracing opportunities to exchange perspectives on global health between different countries, encouraging CUGH participants to comment and chat online. The approach to mutual learning resonated with Valeria’s desire to expand inclusion of non-donor countries in global health academics. 

“The main goal is to achieve partnership. It’s true that in the Global South, there is a lack of funding. Unfortunately, we can’t change that without government support, investment, research, and science,” Valeria noted.

If the Global North is providing funding but working in the Global South, there should be an equal relationship. They should be learning from each other.

Valeria believes there has been an improvement in the global health field’s awareness of equity and inclusion for the Global South. Through her experiences at the conference and beyond, she has witnessed academics realizing the harm caused by current dynamics and discussing how to improve. Like many other advocates for global health equity, she believes this includes listening to and learning from global health experts from diverse backgrounds. 

She hopes to continue learning from global health experts in the Global South through her research internship abroad, which currently has her stationed in Eswatini. The internship is part of her coursework for the Master of Science in Global Health program.