Translating Knowledge from the Field in the Classroom: a piece by Jafet Arrieta

November 3, 2015
Jafet Arrieta

Jafet Arrieta, a 2013 GHDI graduate, shares a bit about her background and how participating in GHDI has impacted her career.

I am a first-year student in the Harvard Chan School of Public Health Doctor of Public Health program. My background and interest is in the study, design and implementation of systematic and evidence-based approaches to strengthen healthcare systems to improve the access to high quality primary care in resource-limited settings.

I currently serve as Faculty for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) supporting the development and expansion of IHI’s projects in Latin America; as Project Manager for the Latin American Consortium for Innovation, Quality and Safety in Healthcare (CLICSS) leading the implementation of two multi-country quality improvement collaboratives aimed at reducing the incidence of healthcare-associated infections in Latin American intensive care units (ICUs); and as Health and Policy Advisor for Partners In Health’s Mental Health Department.

I previously served as Director of Operations for Compañeros En Salud (CES), Partners In Health sister organization in Mexico. CES is a nonprofit focused on improving the access to high quality health care in the Sierra of Chiapas, the poorest and most highly marginalized state in Mexico, using a health system strengthening approach and community-based programs. In the Sierra, rural health posts charged with providing primary care services do not perform to their full potential because of lack of human resources, lack of supply chain systems and, more importantly, lack of systems in place that guarantee the reliable functioning of the clinics. Low performing health services create a cycle of under-utilization, in which people do not use the services because they are unreliable, and the services grow more neglected as people do not use them. This contributes to poor health outcomes, out-of pocket expenditure burdens and social risk for the most vulnerable sector of the population in Mexico. This opportunity allowed me to get first-hand experience and tacit knowledge of the challenges that global health implementers and managers face in Mexico and around the world.

In July of 2013, I had the opportunity to enroll in the Global Health Delivery Intensive (GHDI) program as part of my Master of Medical Sciences in Global Health Delivery at Harvard Medical School. Until today, this remains one of the richest academic experiences I’ve ever had. Having the opportunity to be part of a community of global health practitioners committed to the mission of global health and the principles of social justice and to share and learn from their experiences allowed me not only to realize that we all face similar barriers and challenges in our endeavor to deliver care to the most vulnerable, but also that it is through true collaboration and cooperation among different stakeholders that we are going to achieve value for people and health systems at large-scale. GHDI also allowed me to translate the tacit knowledge I acquired in the field into explicit knowledge about global health delivery, and to further develop the managerial and leadership skills I will need to lead and advocate for value-based health care.