Meet 2022 Global Health Scholar Wan-Li Sun

McGill Global Health Scholar Wan-Li Sun is a Neuroscience student working with Dr. Pia Wintermark of the Department of Pediatrics.

Wan-Li Sun is a Neuroscience student and a McGill Global Health Scholar supported by the Leduc, Davis, Brun, & De Rito Undergraduate Award for Global Health. This summer, Wan-Li worked with Dr. Pia Wintermark on a clinical trial aimed at finding solutions to thrive after birth asphyxia in Africa.

"My role in the clinical trial was to help the local research team obtain and organize data from the various measurements that needed to be collected. Together with the clinicians, we practiced using the amplitude-integrated electroencephalography (aEEG) machine to obtain electrical recordings of brain activity and worked on obtaining different images of the heart and head via a handheld ultrasound machine. I was also responsible for ensuring that all measurements were taken at the appropriate times with respect to drug administration, but above all, I believe that my main and proudest contribution to the project was that of breaking down any and all problems that came up during my time on site. The clinicians and I worked together as a team when brainstorming ideas and adapting study procedures to their reality at Kampala National Referral Hospital – a reality which is often times very different from ours here in Montreal.

I had the most enriching experience in Uganda. Working in one of the busiest maternity hospitals in the world was definitely met by an initial culture shock. I was shocked by the lack of resources. I had prepared by reading and learning about the country as much as possible, but there truly is nothing that compares to firsthand experience. Despite the struggle, the people that I met were nothing but strong and resilient. At Kampala National Referral Hospital, mothers are only allowed to come into the NICU to breastfeed their newborns. This occurs almost every two hours. For this reason, dozens of mothers camp out in the hospital hallways and on the hospital premises, on thin straw mats, waiting for their babies to be discharged. Some do this because they live so far away that they cannot go home and make it back to the hospital in time for the next feeding and some do so simply because they do not have the means to pay for transport to and from the hospital multiple times a day.

Nevertheless, there was joy, and celebration, (and dancing) after every victory, no matter how small. And fraternity – I saw fraternity like I have never seen anywhere else. Every woman is your sister, and you will help her with whatever hardship she may be experiencing regardless of what you yourself may be dealing with at that time. Women helping other women breastfeed while their own baby is in critical condition, clinicians eager to give treatment to sick babies pro bono and nurses running around the NICU tirelessly even though they are overworked and have not seen their families in days are just a few examples of such selflessness. We, as Canadians, are keen on sharing our knowledge with others, but we must not forget that we too have so much left to learn – such as to be happy and grateful for what we do have, far beyond the cliché."

Wan-Li Sun and her colleagues in Uganda: Dr. Lorraine Oriokot, Dr. Idris Mubiru, Wan-Li Sun, Efulansi Kisooka, Judith Muteteri.

From left to right: Dr. Lorraine Oriokot (site Principal Investigator and pediatrician), Dr. Idris Mubiru (pediatrician), Wan-Li Sun, Efulansi Kisooka (nurse), Judith Muteteri (nurse). Not pictured: Dr. Mary Nyanzi (pediatrician), Dr. Lilian Nakimuli (pharmacist), Dr. Daniel Ogik (pharmacist), Maimuna Namazzi (nurse) and Grace Ariokot (nurse).

Learn more about the McGill Global Health Scholars Undergraduate Program.

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