For the 2013-2014 year, VCU welcomes nine Fellows from Brazil, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Pakistan, Egypt, Myanmar, and Albania.
Ms. Fernanda De Conto, is a trained nurse and comes to Virginia Commonwealth University from Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil. Ms. De Conto earned a master’s degree in nursing with a specialization in mental health from Federal University of Santa Catarina in 2012. She is the founder and coordinator of a chemical dependence treatment center in Santa Catarina, where she also provides nursing care. Ms. De Conto also works for the Florianopolis City Hall as well as the University Hospital in Florianopolis. In addition to her other duties, she serves on the steering committee for the implementation of emergency psychiatric services at the University Hospital. During her fellowship, Ms. De Conto hopes to learn new strategies to increase access to treatment for people who use and abuse psychoactive substances in Brazil and to develop effective techniques to prevent and combat her country’s drug problem. After returning home from her fellowship, she plans to implement quality and effectiveness indicators in treatment centers for chemical dependency, implement evidence-based treatment services and expand access to treatment, especially for women and youth.
Mr. Andrew Dodo is from the village of Sabon Sarki, in Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Nigeria. He earned his bachelor’s degree in geography from Ahmadu Bello University (Nigeria) in 1986 and a post graduate diploma in addiction counseling from TRADA National Institute (Kerala, India) in 1999. He joined the service of Kaduna State, Ministry of Education in 1988 as a Master Grade II. Mr. Dodo rose to the rank of Director of Education in 2012, and he is currently the Vice Principal of Administration. As a result of his personal experience with alcohol, he decided to devote his life to working with persons with alcohol and drug use disorders in his local community and throughout Nigeria. Mr. Dodo has been providing substance abuse services for the past 20 years, including conducting awareness and other educational programs on the dangers of using psychoactive substances in schools, other institutions and villages. He has also conducted trainings for school teachers, social workers and others who are interested in working with persons with alcohol and drug use disorders. During his fellowship, Mr. Dodo wants to increase his knowledge of evidence-based treatments for women and youth and to develop skills in new treatment methods, conducting public health campaigns and grant writing.
Ms. Asha Hetti Arachchige, from Colombo, Sri Lanka, earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Colombo in 1998, and her post graduate diploma in criminology and criminal justice from Sri Jayawardenapura University in 2008. She received additional training as a correctional officer from the Training Accreditation Council, Western Australia in 1999. She is currently a Senior Community Corrections Officer in the Department of Community Based Corrections in the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison Reform. As a senior officer, Ms. Hetti Arachchige trains community corrections officers and new recruits of the Department of Community Based Corrections, and she conducts awareness and counseling programs for substance abuse offenders. Ms. Hetti Arachchige is the first female community corrections officer in Sri Lanka and one of six officers who pioneered the implementation of the Sri Lankan community corrections system. Ms. Hetti Arachchige hopes to use her fellowship experience to design and implement more effective drug control policies and establish drug treatment centers in Sri Lanka.
Ms. Martine Hennequin, from Rose Hill, Mauritius, obtained her master’s degree at the Institute of Psychology, Université René Descartes, Paris, France in 1998. After returning to Mauritius, she worked as a clinical psychologist in various environments such as high schools, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and special needs primary schools. Ms. Hennequin also completed her formal postgraduate diploma by engaging in a 5-year course in Person-Centered Therapy, obtaining her European Certificate of Psychotherapy in 2012. For the past six years, she has worked as Therapy Coordinator in an NGO that advocates for the rehabilitation and reintegration of criminal offenders. In this position, Ms. Hennequin coordinated a team of counselors and was responsible for developing the organization’s social reintegration programs. She also currently serves as the organization’s manager. Ms. Hennequin’s goal is to establish prevention and educational programs that empower poor people in her country, especially women and youth, in order to reduce unemployment and drug use. During her fellowship, Ms. Hennequin would like to learn more about substance abuse policy, and prevention and educational programs that could be implemented in her country.
Dr. Shafqat Huma, from Mardan, Pakistan, obtained his bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery at Khyber Medical College Peshawar in 2005. He joined the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan as a Postgraduate Trainee in Psychiatry where he received training in child and adolescent psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, and addiction psychiatry. In addition, Dr. Huma was qualified as a Consultant Psychiatrist in March, 2013. He is currently working as a Registrar in the Substance Abuse Treatment Unit, Department of Psychiatry, Services Hospital Lahore. During his fellowship at VCU, Dr. Huma plans to expand his knowledge of substance abuse treatment and prevention services by observing substance abuse programming in the United States, and he would like to undertake projects that will help him build the skills and knowledge necessary to develop and implement substance abuse treatment and prevention practices in his home country of Pakistan. In addition, Dr. Huma would like to enhance his knowledge and skills in epidemiology and research methods and to improve his management and leadership skills.
Dr. Walid Hassan Ibrahim, from Cairo, Egypt, obtained his bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery at Ain Shams University in Cairo in 2005, and his master’s degree in neuropsychiatry, with merit, in 2009. Dr. Ibrahim also studied hospital and social care management at The American University in Cairo in 2011. Lastly, in 2012 he received a bursary for psychiatrists from developing countries from the Royal College of Psychiatry, Faculty of Intellectual Disability. Dr. Ibrahim is currently working as an assistant lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University. In addition, he is a member of many NGOs providing health and education services for refugees in Egypt. During his fellowship, he will focus primarily on adolescent tobacco and substance use, and he seeks to obtain more experience in drug abuse policy, prevention and treatment for adolescents. Dr. Ibrahim also wants to learn how to design public education campaigns and how to improve the training and education of substance abuse professionals.
Dr. Nang Pann Ei Kham, from Yangon, Myanmar, earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Medicine, Yangon in 2003 and master’s in public health from Mahidol University, Bangkok in 2007. Beginning in 2005, she started working on drug use and HIV/AIDS as a field researcher. She led a team conducting situation assessments of drug use and its consequences in the Northern Shan State of Myanmar. Dr. Kham is now a project manager and trainer focusing on broader HIV/AIDS programs including capacity building of civil society organizations, research and advocacy. Dr. Kham also participated in the formation and development of the National Drug User Network-Myanmar which is an initiative for the advocacy of health and social rights of people who use drugs. During her fellowship, Dr. Kham seeks to enhance her experience in drug policies that protect the rights of people who use drugs and also community-based prevention and treatment programs, particularly for persons who use amphetamine-type stimulants. Dr. Kham is also interested in conducting research on drug use among women and the development of appropriate services for women who use drugs.
Dr. Shehab Mahmoud Hassaan, from Assiut, Egypt, obtained his bachelor of medicine and surgery at Assiut University in Assiut in 2003, and his master’s degree in neuropsychiatry with merit in 2008. Dr. Mahmoud Hassaan also attended three intensive courses in addiction counseling in Kasr El-Ainy School of Medicine, Cairo University, jointly offered by the University of California, Los Angeles Integrated Substance Abuse Programs). Dr. Mahmoud Hassaan is currently working as an assistant lecturer of psychiatry at the Assiut University Institute of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, and he also is registered by the Ministry of Health as a psychiatric inspector responsible for the evaluation of compulsory psychiatric admissions. During his fellowship, Dr. Mahmoud Hassaan will focus on enhancing his leadership and communication abilities, improving his knowledge of research methodology and biostatistics, and developing his ability to conduct community-based research on substance abuse. He also wants to improve his skills in providing different treatment modalities and prevention programs for substance abuse, in general and for tramadol addiction, in particular.
Ms. Enkelejda Ngjelina, from Tirana, Albania, obtained her bachelor’s degree in social work at Social Science Tirana University in 2001, and in 2006 she earned her master’s degree in public health with merit from Tirana University of Medicine and Institute of Public Health. She also obtained a diploma degree in law at Tirana Law Faculty in 2011. Ms. Ngjelina worked as a program officer for the “Network of Community Services for Alternative Sentences” from 2009 to 2011 while she also represented drug abuse cases in the Albanian judicial system. For the past four years she has been working as a substance abuse counselor at “Aksion Plus” drug prevention and treatment center in Tirana, Albania. Ms. Ngjelina is a member of the Steering Committee for the Southeast Europe Drug Policy Network, the European Harm Reduction Network, and the International Drug Policy Consortium. Ms. Ngjelina is an activist for human rights of vulnerable groups and has published several articles including, “Working with Young Offenders”, “Methadone Maintenance Treatment in Prisons”, and “Drug Users Rights’ in Albania.” During her fellowship, Ms. Ngjelina wants to expand her knowledge of drug treatment and prevention programs, addiction research, and drug abuse cases involving the judicial system.