Student team documents health conditions on isolated Idjwi island

A team of seven Harvard graduate students, including four recent HSPH alumni, have released the findings of an innovative health assessment they conducted on Africa’s isolated Idjwi Island last summer. Invited by a Congolese doctor with roots on the island, the students created the first known map of the island using mapping technology, conducted interviews and a quantitative household survey, and assessed the island’s medical infrastructure. They documented that the residents of the island, which is located on Lake Kivu between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, experience high rates of poverty, child malnutrition, and gender-based violence. Young children on Idjwi are in poorer health than in the DRC, and only a small handful of physicians serve the island’s 220,000 people. Read the report’s key findings.

Team members, including Michael Hadley, SM ’11, Tom McHale, SM ’11, Dana Thomson, SM ’11, and Shu-Chuan-Tseng, MPH’10, returned to Idjwi in the summer of 2011 to disseminate their findings to local aid organizations and community leaders. The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, through the Cogan Family Fund for Humanitarian Studies, sponsored the student-led project.

Student Working Papers

“Every Home Has Its Secrets”: A Mixed-Methods Study of Intimate Partner Violence, Women’s Empowerment and Justice on Idjwi Island, Democratic Republic of the Congo
By Thomas McHale, SM ‘11

Fertility and Unmet Need for Contraception on Idjwi Island, DRC
By Dana Thomson, SM ‘11

Health & Demographics of Idjwi Island, DRC: Key findings of a multidisciplinary assessment
By Michael Hadley, SM ‘11

Learn more

Idjwi Island: Oasis of Change (Harvard Public Health Review)