Saraïna Ulysse is a Fall 2023 Recipient of the Srinivasan Family Awards for Projects in Emerging Markets, run by the Center for Emerging Markets at Northeastern University.

For her first co-op, Saraïna Ulysse, a third-year Public Health student at Northeastern University, has been in the remote regions Baringo County, Kenya leading a research project aimed at understanding the impact of community health education on visceral leishmaniasis.

Inspired by her involvement in a summer 2023 Dialogue of Civilizations program alongside Professor Richard Wamai, Saraïna returned to Kenya in January 2024 to further her passion for health research and education. In collaboration with Northeastern Professor Richard Wamai and the African Center for Community Investment in Health (ACCIH), Saraïna designed a study to analyze the effectiveness of community health education on visceral leishmaniasis (VL or kala-azar) in improving knowledge, practice, and health-seeking behavior in Tiaty East and West sub-counties, of Baringo County.

ACCIH has conducted health education on kala-azar in over twenty villages across Tiaty East and West sub-counties in Baringo to improve knowledge and attitudes towards the disease, however, no formal study has been initiated to understand the impact of such efforts.

Over the past few months, Saraïna has led interviews and household surveys with community members and healthcare professionals to learn more about the impact community health education on VL has had and the challenges to health education in Tiaty East and West. She has also engaged in the mobile clinics conducted by ACCIH and its local partners and volunteered with the nutrition and laboratory departments at Chemolingot Sub-County Hospital.

As of May 2024, Saraïna has collected data from over 180 layperson questionnaires and 10 key informants' interviews. As she nears the end of her co-op, she has begun analyzing the data collected to gain a better understanding of the impact of community health education on kala-azar has had on improving health behavior and to identify what areas need more research and education efforts. Saraïna aims to finalize a manuscript of her findings and submit her findings for journal publication and hopes to also present her work at the Peak Experience Awards and American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) Conference in the upcoming year.