By John Carruthers, staff writer, May 01, 2012
Harvard dermatology resident Esther Freeman, MD, PhD, has carried out an impressive amount of international volunteer work during her relatively short medical career. Dr. Freeman’s desire to afford specialist treatment to the most underserved patients in the world has taken her as far afield as the brothels of Benin and parts of Lesotho only accessible by bush plane. She also made significant contributions to the treatment of leishmaniasis patients in Peru by organizing outreach programs for remote villagers through the Leishmaniasis Working Group at the Universidad Cayetano Heredia. Throughout, she has remained committed to providing both treatment and education for a diverse array of communities.
“I have committed to return to the endemic villages of Peru, but also to help train the next generation of Peruvian health care providers and researchers.”
- Dr. Freeman has a long history of volunteering overseas. During college, she joined Partners in Health and traveled to a remote area of Lesotho to bring antiretroviral therapy to the population there. Following college, she volunteered with the Mexican National Institute of Public Health. Fieldwork for her subsequent PhD in epidemiology and volunteer activities led to her work with sex workers in Benin.
- “What has joined all of these experiences together is an abiding interest in improving health care access and sustainability of health programs in the developing world, be that through training local providers or strengthening the systems already in place.”
- Following medical school, which she completed after her PhD, Dr. Freeman worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s International Emerging Infections program, working with underprivileged patients on two of Thailand’s borders.
- “As a dermatology resident, and in the future as an academic dermatologist, I embrace the continued opportunity to make international volunteerism a central part of my training and practice.”
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