For the 2015-2016 year, VCU welcomed 12 Fellows from Mexico, Peru, Egypt, South Africa, Sierre Leone, Togo, Uganda, Slovak Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, and Pakistan.
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Ms. Asia Ashraf
Ms. Asia Ashraf from Islamabad, Pakistan, earned a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology, chemistry, and zoology in 2001and master’s degree in applied psychology in 2003, both from Punjab University. She also holds diplomas in human resource management from the Skills Development Council in Islamabad as well as speech and language therapy from the National Institute for Rehabilitative Medicines in Islamabad. She started her career as a volunteer psychologist with Sunny Trust International, Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre in Islamabad in 2003, and rose to become its director of rehabilitation and head of the psychology department. Her responsibilities include management, program implementation and monitoring, and supervision of a range of tasks related to treatment and rehabilitation of persons with substance use disorders. She has undertaken numerous professional trainings and is a national trainer for the Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Program. During her fellowship, Ms. Ashraf seeks to increase her knowledge of addiction treatment, rehabilitation and prevention services, and to learn new counseling techniques. In particular, she hopes to learn more about effective services for children/ adolescents, women, and persons involved in the criminal justice system. Ms. Ashraf also wants to improve her research, project management and writing skills.
Dr. Mariana Azcárraga
Mexico City, Mexico
Dr. Mariana Azcárraga, from Mexico City, Mexico, earned her medical degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 2012, and she is currently finishing a psychiatry residency at the National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery in Mexico City. As a resident, she provides a full range of psychiatric services to patients with mental health and substance use disorders, including cognitive behavioral therapy. Dr. Azcárraga also teaches medical students and has research experience in biological psychiatry. She is a member of the Experimental Psychiatry Laboratory which employs neuroimaging and neurophysiological methods for studying the basis of disease in the brain. For her fellowship, Dr. Azcárraga seeks primarily to expand her knowledge in the origins, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of addiction. She also wants to learn more about epidemiology and drug policy to help address drug abuse problems in vulnerable populations such as adolescents, pregnant women, and persons with psychiatric illnesses. In addition, Dr. Azcárraga hopes to become involved in drug abuse research and to form partnerships with organizations and drug abuse experts in the U.S.
Dr. Jessica Beltran
Dr. Jessica Beltran, from Lima, Peru, obtained her medical degree from the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in 2007 and a master’s degree in epidemiological research from Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in 2013. She also has received advanced training at the University of Amsterdam in international drug policy. Dr. Beltran is a researcher at the Peruvian National Institute of Health, conducting primary and secondary public health research. Her expertise includes qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods studies as well as rapid, systematic literature reviews. She and her colleagues provide information for government stakeholders to help them make evidence-based public health decisions for Peru. Dr. Beltran has been collaborating in the introduction of screening, brief interventions and referral to treatment in Peruvian health care settings, specifically with vulnerable populations such as people living with HIV/AIDS and female sex workers. Her work was recently presented at the College on Problems of Drug Dependence annual meeting. During her fellowship, Dr. Beltran would like to improve her research skills so that she can conduct studies that would create a better understanding of substance abuse problems, and ultimately inform the development of more effective prevention and treatment policies and programs.
Mr. Mawouena K. Bohm
Mr. Mawouena K. Bohm, from Togo, is a clinical psychologist who obtained his master's degree at the Institute of Educational Sciences in Université de Lome in 2009. Mr. Bohm serves as deputy coordinator of the Togo National Anti-drug Committee, where he has been in charge of substance abuse prevention, treatment and training since 2012. Mr. Bohm is very involved in the development and implementation of Togo’s national policy against drug abuse. As a trainer for the TreatNet Program of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Mr. Bohm trains psychologists, physicians, social workers and other professionals on motivational interviewing and relapse prevention. He also trains teachers, community leaders, and parents on how to help their children and family members deal with substance abuse problems. In addition, Mr. Bohm works with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on drug demand reduction, by providing technical support and advice on how to improve their interventions. During his fellowship, Mr Bohm plans to enhance his knowledge of evidence-based prevention and treatment programs for youth so that he can implement these programs when he returns home. He also hopes to learn more about drug policy so that he can work with decision makers in Togo to develop more effective drug control strategies.
Mr. Anthony Coetzer-Liversage
Cape Town, South Africa
Mr. Anthony Coetzer-Liversage, from Cape Town, South Africa, obtained an honors degree in psychology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2006, a master’s degree in clinical pastoral care and counseling in 2013 from Stellenbosch University, and a post-graduate diploma in addiction care in 2014, also from Stellenbosch University. Mr. Coetzer-Liversage is currently the chairperson of a non-profit organization, Inner Peace, which provides substance abuse prevention and treatment services, with a special focus on minority groups. He is also involved in other non-profit organizations where his work focuses on helping these organizations to improve the professionalization of addiction service providers in South Africa and beyond. He is experienced in workplace interventions addressing various health issues, but especially substance use. During his fellowship, he will focus on developing the skills and knowledge he needs to establish centers of excellence that address substance use prevention, treatment, education, research, policy and advocacy in a coordinated fashion. He also wants to continue his efforts to develop curricula to train substance abuse professionals and to improve his skills in grant writing, project management, and human resource management.
Ms. Lenka Juríčeková
Handlová, Slovak Republic
Ms. Lenka Juríčeková, from Handlová, Slovak Republic, obtained her master‘s degree at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovak Republic in special education, with a particular focus on counseling of people with disabilities. She also graduated from Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic with degrees in psychology and journalism. In 2011, she established and led a non-governmental organization titled Four-leaf, which supports families with children who have developmental disabilities. Ms. Juríčeková also worked as a psychosocial field worker on a crisis intervention team during which time she started focusing on work with children exposed to traumatic events such as serious accidents and the death of a friend or family member. In 2013, she was nominated for a Slovak journalism prize on articles she wrote about children who survived the holocaust in World War II. During her fellowship, Ms. Juríčeková seeks to enhance her ability to work with and support children who have experienced traumatic events. She hopes that with the additional knowledge and skills she develops, she will be better able to help these children strengthen their coping abilities and prevent the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders, a common symptom of PTSD.
Dr. İlker Kayı
Dr. İlker Kayı, from Istanbul, Turkey, graduated from Istanbul University Faculty of Medicine in 2005, and after working as a practitioner for two years he enrolled in specialty training in public health at the same university. Dr. Kayi has worked for the Turkish Ministry of Health and he was the chief of the primary health care unit in a Syrian Refugee Camp in the Adıyaman Province for one year. He also has played an active role in carrying out the health education modules for the Health Promotion Project for seasonal migrant agricultural workers and their families. Currently, Dr. Kayi is working in Koç University School of Medicine, and his main interests are health policy, health administration, health promotion, health education, global health, social determinants of health, community mental health and epidemiology. Throughout his fellowship year, Dr. Kayı intends to focus on the role of collaboration in health policy and health administration by evaluating the mental health and tobacco control policies of Turkey. Dr. Kayı would also like to improve his skills in qualitative research methods in order to conduct studies that identify the personal and institutional barriers for collaboration in policy making and implementation.
Mr. Joseph Lahai
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Mr. Joseph Lahai, from Freetown, Sierra Leone, received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture in 1991. He joined the Sierra Leone Police Force in 1997, working in criminal investigation, transnational organized crime, and narcotics. In 2004 he was appointed as officer in-charge of the Anti-Drugs Unit, with the responsibility of investigating all drug-related crimes. To increase his skills in crime scene investigation and drug analysis, Mr. Lahai completed his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy in 2009. In 2010, he went to Sudan as a peace-keeper under the United Nations African Mission in Darfur, where he was ultimately appointed as officer in-charge of the Joint Operations Center at the mission’s headquarters. Mr. Lahai completed his mission with the UN in 2012 and rejoined the Sierra Leone Police Force, rising to the rank of superintendent in charge of the Scientific Support Unit. His responsibilities include scientific analyses, administration, and collaboration with the country’s forensic pathologist and other government agencies. Mr. Lahai would like to increase his skills in forensic toxicology, particularly in the areas of drug and fingerprint analysis, with the ultimate goal of expanding training opportunities for other law enforcement professionals in his country. He also seeks to learn more about what he can do to improve drug abuse control.
Dr. Mohamed Abdelghani Moustafa
Dr. Mohamed Abdelghani Moustafa, from Zagazig, Egypt, obtained his bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery from Zagazig University in 2004, his neuropsychiatry master’s degree from Zagazig University in 2009, and his MD degree in psychiatry from Zagazig University in 2013. Dr. Abdelghani also obtained a training diploma in hospital administration from El-Sadat Academy in Cairo in 2013. Dr. Abdelghani’s current position is as a lecturer of psychiatry at Zagazig School of Medicine, and he is also a founding member of the first governmental addiction treatment and prevention unit in the Eastern Nile Delta. He is experienced in detox therapy and the management of psychiatric comorbidities. In addition to this work, he is a member of several NGOs that work to organize health campaigns in poor, rural areas. Dr. Abdelghani also trains mental health professionals in psychiatry and conducts research on different topics of psychiatry including substance use disorders. During his fellowship, he will focus primarily on drug abuse prevention and treatment, especially cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and other relapse prevention techniques, as well as the management of substance use disorders in special populations such as adolescents and women. He wishes to make the utmost use of his fellowship to improve addiction services in his country.
Mr. Rogers Mutaawe
Mr. Rogers Mutaawe, from Kampala, Uganda, earned his bachelor’s degree in social work and social administration in 2002, and is currently pursuing his master’s degree in human rights from Makerere University. Since 2002, Mr. Mutaawe has been working with the Uganda Youth Development Link as a field social worker, and he rose through the ranks to become the senior program manager in 2011. Mr. Mutaawe has implemented substance abuse prevention community projects through engagement with local leaders, provided counseling and rehabilitation services to young drug users, and conducted substance abuse awareness sessions with students. Mr. Mutaawe has also participated in advocacy efforts aimed at influencing the development of Uganda’s national alcohol policy through engagement with policy makers, the media and partner organizations. In addition, he has been involved in the planning and execution of two alcohol research projects in collaboration with Georgia State University, and he co-authored three reports about the state of alcohol and drug abuse and alcohol regulation in Uganda. During his fellowship, Mr. Mutaawe wants to learn how to evaluate the effectiveness of community prevention and policy programs; how to influence the development of alcohol and drug policies, and learn new skills in conducting alcohol and drug abuse research.
Mr. Usman Shamim
Mr. Usman Shamim, from Quetta, Pakistan, earned his bachelor’s degree in economics in 2010 from Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences, and a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Balochistan. He also completed several training courses/workshops on disaster risk management, and the development of an outreach drop-in-center for drug addicts. He has also been a resource panelist for developing and editing a guidebook on drug outreach programs in Asia titled, “Concepts and Lessons Learnt” published by The Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Program Sri Lanka”. Mr. Shamim has more than eight years of experience in the non-profit sector with organizations in Balochistan. He is currently working as a program director for Balochistan Development Initiatives, an organization that provides water and sanitation facilities, prevents environmental degradation, protects natural resources, and provides education and health services to poor communities. Mr. Shamim’s experiences have equipped him with a variety of skills, such as project design and management, donor liaison and reporting, baseline surveys and assessment, and financial management. Mr. Usman’s goals for his fellowship include enhancing his knowledge about substance abuse counseling and treatment techniques, as well as evaluation, so that he can expand and improve the treatment services available in Pakistan.
Dr. Nataša Tomić
Banjaluka, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Dr. Nataša Tomić, from Banjaluka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, obtained her medical degree in 1989, and specialized training in rehabilitation medicine from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Banjaluka, in 2000. In 2009 she completed a master’s degree in human resources in health at Keele University, UK. During the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dr. Tomić worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross in the medical department. After the war, Dr. Tomić was involved in various projects such as the establishment of community-based rehabilitation and psychosocial support services for adolescents traumatized by war. For the last eight years, Dr Tomić has been the medical director of the Institute for Physical Medicine, Rehabilitation, Orthopedic Surgery and Baromedicine in Banjaluka, a leading rehabilitation hospital in her country. She has focused primarily on human resource management of approximately 500 staff, the coordination of medical and nonmedical teams and services, and strengthening the cooperation between the Institute and other educational institutions. She has been actively involved in supporting multidisciplinary teams, adopting new rehabilitation services, and implementing standards of care. During her fellowship, Dr. Tomić would like to enhance her knowledge of health systems functioning, healthcare financing, human resources management, project management, and health promotion, including advocating for persons with disabilities.