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An IHTM alumna in a medical environment

Sophie Janet (IHTM 2015)

Paediatric Advisor, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Spain based in Senegal.

Sophie oversees paediatric projects in West Central Africa and Latin America for MSF. Her responsibilities include shaping the MSF paediatric and newborn strategy, developing and drafting guidelines for its implementation, and supporting staff in the field with technical paediatric issues.

Prior to IHTM, Sophie worked as a medical doctor in paediatrics in the UK and Spain.

Sophie is passionate about improving maternal, newborn and child health, particularly in low-resource contexts. Born and brought up in Mexico, Sophie understands the issues facing maternal and newborn care in LMICs. She wanted to study IHTM in Oxford because of the breadth and expertise of the teaching and because of the reputation of the University. In 2017/18 and 2020/21 Sophie returned to IHTM to lecture on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.

Speaking about the course Sophie says,

“IHTM combines wide-ranging, high calibre teaching from experts who are leaders in their field with a diverse cohort of students who enrich discussion and interactions with their own experience. It is an invaluable learning environment.”

During the year studying IHTM, Sophie undertook a placement in the Myanmar-Thailand border working on a project with the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, SMRU, analysing newborn survival and neurological outcomes after newborn resuscitation. The resulting *paper was published in 2018. Subsequently, the research was presented in the MSF Paediatric Days. Sophie continues to collaborate with IHTM, hosting a placement on sickle cell disease in 2021.

Sophie talks about what she learnt from IHTM,

“The course changed the way that I approach my work. It is challenging and teaches academic rigour, reflection and critical thinking. I learnt to look at a problem from a range of perspectives.”

Explaining how this can work in practice, Sophie uses an example of the implementation of “Kangaroo mother care” for low birth weight and preterm babies to reduce mortality and morbidity in West Africa. The method involves newborns being carried, usually by the mother, with skin-to-skin contact. There were many barriers at different levels that hindered the implementation and scale-up of this life saving intervention. The team’s approach was to do a root cause analysis from a multidisciplinary perspective, including mothers, families and communities to critically assess the problem and then address each of the factors affecting uptake.

The last word
“IHTM shaped my vision and gave me not only the credentials but also the confidence to believe that I could be an ‘actor of change’.”

Sophie Janet – research profile:

*Early neonatal mortality and neurological outcomes of neonatal resuscitation in a resource-limited setting on the Thailand-Myanmar border: A descriptive study | PLOS ONE